The state of New York is experiencing a high interest–some may say a mad dash–for pistol permits.
According to USA Today, New York passed out roughly 20,000 permits last year, which is a 14% increase from 2011. In some areas of the state the demand for pistol permits can be much, much greater. Police records show that at least 16 counties display a rise of 50% or more. An example is Westchester County, one of the counties involved in the controversial move by the New York-based Journal News to list local permit holders online. Permits obtained there have risen 200% over the past two years. County officials see no clear reason why permits are such a hot-ticket item in Westchester, but there is an obvious answer for the rest of the state.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the nation’s toughest gun law, the NY SAFE Act, in January. The lightning-fast passing of the act in the state’s legislature shocked many gun owners, and in the days after additional proposals were made by both President Obama and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) with potential nationwide reach.
Gun rights groups such as the New York Rifle and Pistol Association have filed a claim against the New York law, but it hasn’t stopped residents from stocking up while they still can. So many applications are being received that the processing time for the permits can be more than a year. Many gun owners express concern for future regulations as well.
“That’s the reason you are seeing a lot of this,” said Tomas King, president of the New York Rifle and Pistol Association. “They’re afraid their rights are going to be outlawed, and they are also looking to protect themselves.”
Governor Cuomo had previously said that he believes the SAFE Act and the lawmakers behind it are “on the right side of history. I think they are with the majority of the people of this state.” Cuomo shrugged off the opposition as a small but vocal minority.