With the deadline fast approaching for thousands of New York pistol permits to be recertified, it makes sense for the state to extend the deadline — but more needs to be done to educate the public about their responsibilities for the future.
A provision of the NY SAFE Act requires anyone who had a pistol permit before the law was established in 2013 to recertify their paperwork within five years. That five-year window closes at the end of this month, and hundreds of thousands of people across the state — including nearly 10,000 in Cayuga County — have yet to recertify.
It's not clear what the percentages are, but there are some people who don't realize they have to recertify and others who are planning to willfully disregard the law.
We understand that some people believe that the SAFE Act is all about undermining their Second Amendment rights. But updating the database of pistol permits is a lot like keeping records on motor vehicle registrations and driver licenses.
The state requires automobiles to be registered every two years, and a small number of people aren't allowed to register because they have failed to maintain adequate liability insurance. The state will also suspend the driver license of people who pile up traffic tickets or cause multiple accidents. There are surely those who believe that motor vehicle paperwork is an overstep by the state, but the vast majority comply just the same.
What New York is trying to do with pistols is to keep them out of the hands of irresponsible people, like those convicted of violent crimes. For everyone else, it's a simple matter of keeping their certification current. And just because police agencies have no plans to immediately crack down on enforcement doesn't mean that compliance can be ignored indefinitely.
The state said that letters were sent out to permit holders last year reminding them of the recertification deadline, and that's a good start, but more needs to be done to educate people who might not be familiar enough with the rules.
A grace period at this point would be the fair thing to do. Afterward, the state needs to share more information with pistol owners about what their responsibilities are, and it needs to work with law enforcement about how best to tackle the issue of compliance.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.