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January 23, 2013

Coping with the new gun law

MALONE — County clerks’ offices are fielding hundreds of calls from gun owners about New York’s new firearms law and requests for pistol-permit applications.

The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE Act) law got State Senate approval Jan. 14 then a majority Assembly vote and signature by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 15.

Among other requirements, it bans assault weapons and limits ammunition magazines to no more than seven rounds, requires background checks on all gun purchases and strengthens the penalties against those with illegal guns.

MANY CONFUSED

Kip Cassavaw, acting county clerk in Franklin County, said his office is

answering 100 calls a day from owners unsure of “what’s legal and not legal” and what the new law means concerning their weapons.

“We’ve had quite a run on applications, and a lot of people are buying guns and adding them to their permits,” he said. “We’re passing out five to 10 applications a day.”

There have also been a lot of questions about the re-certification that will now be required every five years.

“We’ve been extremely busy, and we’ve been referring a lot of them to the State Police,” Cassavaw said. “But the State Police say they don’t have any details on the law.”

LEGISLATORS VOTED NO

Intended to prevent convicted felons and dangerous mental-health patients from obtaining guns, the legislation was developed in response to such tragedies as the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut and the shooting deaths of two firefighters in Webster, near Rochester.

The three lawmakers from the North Country, Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury), Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru), were unanimous in voting against the legislation.

Little and Stec both called action on the measure premature; Stec said in a statement there was a “lack of time for both legislators and the public to read the particulars of the legislation.”

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