One man’s journey to obtain pistol permit from New York county police department finds him humiliated and dumbfounded that local government freely institutes an administrative prohibition on the Second Amendment.
“The whole process is intimidating and mind-boggling,” said ‘Mark’ a Suffolk County resident who requested anonymity since his permit application is still being processed. “I would hate to see anything happen that would prevent approval.”
Having a population of about 1.5 million, Suffolk County is an affluent suburb approx. 80 miles East of New York City.
Mark said he submitted his initial two-page permit application with the Suffolk County Police Department Pistol License Bureau on Jan. 16 together with a $10 money order made payable to Suffolk County Police. “The form is similar to the one needed to purchase a rifle in New York State.”
However, in addition to requesting basic information such as; name, address, social security number, contact information, and criminal/mental health history, he said the application requires four reference letters – from mere acquaintances. “The referral cannot be a blood relative, of a spousal relationship, or a member of law enforcement.”
“You must list your current employer and all former employers on the form as well,” he said. “Employer information includes every person you ever worked for; their addresses and phone numbers.”
There is a shameful feeling involved when a police officer contacts an employer, current or otherwise, he said. “It feels as if I have committed a crime.”
Prior to the interview, Mark said he was required to obtain an abstract of his driving history from the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. “I had to submit an explanation for a suspended license that has since been reinstated.”
After three months he received a call from the license bureau to schedule an interview, he said. “I scheduled the earliest available appointment May 29 which at this point is almost six months into the process.”
The avid rifle shooter said on May 29 he met with an investigating officer at the local police station. As required, he brought along a copy of his driver’s license and birth certificate, proof of residence, driving abstract, four reference letters, and a money order in the amount of $91.50 made payable to Suffolk County Police.
His finger prints were copied, mug-shot taken, questions answered, explanations given, criminal background check done and the ins-and-outs of the rules and regulations were described, he said. “Although the police officers were very nice, it still felt strange and out-of-place.”
In addition, it was at this juncture that the department requested two moral character affidavits from the four references submitted, said Mark. “They are either there to prevent us from purchasing a pistol or make us feel really bad about wanting to own a pistol.”
All of the information provided including mug-shot and finger prints was inputted into a computer and a new application that looked like a rap-sheet was produced, he said. “I had to re-sign the application, have it signed by all four references, collect two moral character affidavits that needed to be signed and notarized, and submit the final application to the main police headquarters in Yaphank.”
In exchange for a pistol permit, we agree to have our guns confiscated at the pleasure of the police department, he said. “Essentially we are giving up a lot of our rights. They can send a police officer to my house to demand surrender of my gun and permit without a warrant.”
If a gun owner does not comply with confiscation, he or she may have their license revoked and/or be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor crime, he said.
It would take six months for a decision from the time the final application was submitted, said Mark. “If a permit is granted then I will be able to buy a handgun, but only have twenty days to bring permit and unloaded handgun back to police department for inspection. The serial number and model is then added to permit.”
Although pistol permits are normally granted, he said the rules make the process as uncomfortable as possible. “The entire process is nothing but one barrier after another that essentially makes you feel like a criminal who should be ashamed of yourself.”
Article 400 of the New York State Penal Law determines administrative procedures concerning the issuance, renewal, filing, cancellation, and revocation of pistol, firearm dealers and gunsmith licenses, but the Illinois State Supreme Court recently filed a unanimous opinion in the matter of People v. Aguilar that confirmed in part that no state law can prevent citizens from keeping and bearing firearms.
“One cannot help but feel this whole process is orchestrated in an onerous manner, particularly since owning a gun is a constitutional right,” said Mark.