Members of local gun groups may be aware of the new mandate for pistol recertification, but many average gun owners are not.
Starting January 31, 2018, gun owners will have to reapply for recertification every five years in compliance with New York's SAFE Act, passed in 2013.
To address this issue, Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski and other local leaders will be assisting gun owners with paperwork and questions at town hall meetings in Lewiston and North Tonawanda, starting Monday. Jastrzemski said there has been a failure to communicate to several gun owners.
"The State Police are supposed to be handling this," Jasrezemski said. "And what has happened is they sent out letters way back in January, supposedly to everybody who's a pistol permit holder. Well, we do know for a fact there are many and many pistol permit holders who have not received their notification that they have to recertify."
Jastrzemski said whether permit holders receive notification or not, they are still responsible for recertifying. He said he has seen confusion from several gun owners first hand at the pistol permit office.
"They tell my staff that 'I haven't moved. I've lived at the same address for 30 years, but I never received my letter,' so I'm not really sure where the ball was dropped, but I just trying to get out the word to the residents," he said.
Jastrzemski said many unanswered questions remain.
"If I don't recertify and I'm gonna lose my pistol permit, am I gonna have a due process? Who's gonna notify me that I've been revoked? Am I gonna have to surrender my gun? There are so many unanswered questions," he said.
Moving forward, there are plans for Niagara County to put the recertification date on permit cards as a reminder.
Monday's meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Lewiston Town Hall. Another meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the American Legion’s Sikora Post in North Tonawanda.