Bill would streamline pistol permitting

By Don Lehman
Contributing Writer
New York Outdoor News

Albany - Some gun owners are hoping to take pistols permitting process out of the hands of state judges under a bill introduced in the state Assembly earlier this year.

Proponents of the legislation, sponsered by Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D - Kenmore, point to recent comment by a federal administrative judge who said the state's pistol permit process needed streamlineing.

It would allow New York to join 40 other states that have "shall issue" policies thatt rely solely on criminal background checks through the federal Nation Instant Criminal Background Check System.

State Law leaves the ultimate decision as to who gets to carry a handgun to superior court judges.

That has led to conflicting policies in different areas of the state, and even county - county, as what the criteria are for a permit to carry a handgun.

The bill interdicted by Schimminger, A6378, would remove "judicial discretion" from the process and require the issuance of a hnadgun permit provided the peerson applying for the permit passed a criminal background check.

It would also do away with the requirements some counties impose for a handgun safety classes, character investigations and auxiliary fees.

"New York is one of the only eight states that issue handgun permits, but requires law-abiding citizens to prove a need to carry a handgun, thus allowing licensing officers to deny or restrict licenses to law abiding New Yorkers," Schimminger wrote in the bill's memorandum.

He added that only law-abiding people are subject to the law, because criminals simply ignore the laws and illegally carry handguns.

"Law-abiding people who are willing to submit to a criminal and character background check are not likely to commit a crime, and there is no rational basis for denying them the Constitutional right to own and carry a handgun," Schimminger wrote.

The bill has garnered the support of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Assocation, Whose president, Tom King, Issued a bulletin in mid-June urging residents contact their local Assembly members to advocate for the proposal.

"It would make the process much more uniform," he said,

With state judges elected to 10 year terms in New York, a judge who has opposition to some gun laws can restrict ownership in an entire county for a decade, King said.

The bill did not have a sponser in the sate Senate as of late June, and King said it did not look like it would make it through the Assmbly this year. But he was still optimistic about its future.

"It has been getting some support, but I think we'll see movement on it next year," he said

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