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Saratoga County officials want seal off SAFE letters

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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— Saratoga County officials don’t want the county’s official seal associated with an upcoming state effort to start enforcing another provision of the controversial SAFE Act.

The Board of Supervisors’ Law and Finance Committee passed the protest resolution at a meeting Wednesday, the first anniversary of the passage of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

Specifically, county leaders are telling state officials they don’t want any indication of the county’s endorsement to appear on upcoming letters that will sent to pistol permit holders, telling them the permits must be recertified.

“It’s their law. They are the ones who move it forward. We want to be sure we’re not associated with this,” said County Clerk Craig Hayner.

One of the provisions of the SAFE Act is that pistol permits, which previously lasted indefinitely, must now be reviewed for recertification every five years.

The county has 16,000 permit holders, and 3,000 of them will get letters from the state in March saying it’s time to come in for recertification. Saratoga County is one of the pilot counties for pistol permit recertifications, Hayner said.

The resolution, which will demand the county seal not be associated with those letters, will now go to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote Tuesday at a meeting in Ballston Spa.

Despite the position the county appears to be taking, county employees are deeply involved in the pistol permit process. Permit applications and application investigations are done by the county Sheriff’s Department. Permit amendments — required when an individual pistol that appears on a permit is bought or sold — also are processed through the Sheriff’s Department.

A county judge makes the decision on whether a permit should be issued to any given individual, and once it is issued, the permit is recorded with the county clerk’s office.

Hayner said 18 other counties — including Schoharie County, which acted in December — have passed resolutions prohibiting the use of their official seals on SAFE Act correspondence.

A pistol permit holder who doesn’t respond to the recertification letter could lose the permit and the right to own pistols — but the Sheriff’s Department doesn’t want to be the agency enforcing that provision.

“I don’t have the means or manpower to store or go out and secure weapons,” said Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo.

He said he would ask a judge to have state police enforce any permit revocations.

The SAFE Act — passed in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre in December 2012— places a variety of new restrictions on firearms and has been very unpopular with upstate gun owners. Saratoga County and a number of other upstate counties last year went on record as opposing the act and its enforcement.

 
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