A0801A/S1598A, S0066, A3076B/S5489 & S3597
GOVERNOR’S PROGRAM BILL #35
PISTOL LICENSE RENEWAL
TRAINING FOR PISTOL LICENSE APPLICANTS
Two bills have been proposed that, if enacted, would modify the pistol license issuance and management process:
A0801A/S1598A and S0066 require a five year renewal for all pistol licenses outside of the City of New York.
Nassau and Suffolk Counties already have five year renewal, and Westchester County has five year certification. Neither the current law, nor this proposal, provides any guidance on what would constitute license renewal nor establishes fees.
A3076B/S5489 and S3597 requires completion of a firearms safety course and test approved by the Superintendent of State Police prior to the issuance of a license. The length of training or content is not specified. In addition, the Governor has proposed a program bill that has not yet been introduced. The sponsor of the renewal bill states as justification the need to bring records up to date and to “ensure … that handguns do not fall into the wrong hands”.
While much of the justification statement suffers from factual inaccuracies, it is true that the licensing records contain some outdated or erroneous data as well as listing deceased licensees as “active”.
The sponsor of the training requirement bill did not provide a justification statement.
In the United States of America, forty states are right-to-carry states and do not require a permit to purchase or possess a handgun. These states issue concealed carry permits to citizens of legal age excluding criminals or the mentally deficient. In contrast, simple possession of a handgun in New York is not granted without a valid permit. Currently, pistol permits issued outside of New York City are valid until revoked for sufficient cause. Legislation requiring renewal of permits every five years increases the cost and burden to citizens who choose to exercise their civil right to keep and bear arms. New York State does not require the completion of a training course prior to the purchase of a long gun. Although well intentioned, legislation requiring a safety training course prior to issuing a pistol permit places an additional burden upon the exercise of a recognized civil right. Furthermore, evidence shows that such training is unnecessary. Rigorous studies (1,2,3,4) reveal that allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms deters violent crime with no increase in accidental deaths, and citizens who are granted conceal carry permits are so thoroughly vetted that they are five times less likely to commit a crime than the average non-permit holder and their rate of criminality is threefold lower than that of law enforcement officers themselves. Although both of these bills raise legitimate concerns, neither proposal provides a reasonable or comprehensive course of action. Neither of these bills contains sufficient specificity to permit an evaluation of their potential effectiveness in satisfying the stated justification, nor establish the burden they would impose on licensees. Neither bill is acceptable as proposed.
A0828/S5459 POSSESSION BY UNLICENSED PERSONS FOR TRAINING
The proposed legislation would permit individuals to receive training in the safe handling of firearms under controlled conditions prior to the issuance of a license. The purpose is to provide for more effective pre license training.
We fully support this proposal. PL §265.20(a)(7a) and PL §400.00(3)(b) were intended to permit this but specify such complex administrative and investigative procedures as to render it unusable for the intended purpose. The ability to handle firearms during pre license training classes would allow a more effective pre-licensing course and permit the inclusion of existing programs, such as the NRA Basic Pistol Course, that require handling and firing of firearms to demonstrate comprehension of the material.
LIMITATIONS ON LICENSING OFFICERS’ DISCRETION
This proposal would limit the ability of licensing offers to impose restrictions not specified by statute on pistol licenses. Under current law, licensing officers are not limited in their ability to impose conditions based on personal beliefs or local political philosophy.
We fully support this proposal. The licensing officer may, and in fact is expected, to make subjective judgments as to the fitness of applicants to receive licenses. The law gives them considerable discretionary authority and this authority has been upheld in litigation. The problem arises when they impose their personal or local political philosophy rather than use the fair and reasonable standards on which these decisions were intended to be based. This has resulted in a lack of consistency in the administration of a system that was intended to function statewide with uniform criteria and administrative procedures. Individuals who meet the statutory requirements should receive licenses.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF PISTOL LICENSE INFORMATION
This proposal would prohibit the disclosure of any information contained in a pistol license application, obtained during processing, or maintained after issuance from disclosure for other than law enforcement purposes.
We fully support this legislation. Current law allows disclosure of the names and addresses of license holders, providing information to potential criminals and potentially facilitating the theft of firearms. There is no conceivable public purpose in making this information available for potential criminal misuse.
This bill provides broader protection than that offered in the Governor’s Program Bill #35. The program bill protects only the licensee’s address. We see no need for the public disclosure of any information related to individual pistol license holders for other than law enforcement purposes.
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The Shooter’s Committee on Political Education was founded in 1965 by a group of firearms owners in western New York. SCOPE is a civil rights organization focused on the protection and preservation of the right of firearms ownership as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
It does not align itself with any political party nor does it endorse any candidates for elective office. Our function is to counter assaults on the right of firearms ownership. This entails providing legislators and executives with timely and accurate information to support sound decisions.
SCOPE’s purpose is to maintain the right of individuals to own and use firearms for lawful purposes. Inform members about antigun/gun owner legislation.
Stop antigun/gun owner legislation in New York State. Educate the public on the positive aspects of firearm ownership, and their Second Amendment rights.
SCOPE is a New York State Not For Profit Volunteer Organization dedicated to the preservation of the Second Amendment Rights for New York Citizens.
SCOPE will oppose, with all its resources, any proposal that is not based on sound technical grounds or that infringes on the rights of firearms owners for the purpose of promoting a political philosophy, advancing a social theory, or as an emotional response and is not based on clear Constitutional grounds.