Long lines and wait times ahead of New York's new carry restrictions

Long lines and wait times ahead of New York's new carry restrictions
Photo Courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation

Starting September 1st, New Yorkers hoping to acquire a concealed carry license will have to qualify under new rules imposed in a rush by state lawmakers earlier this summer, but there’s a lot of confusion over who can conduct that training and what needs to be covered.

Under guidance released this week by the state police’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, applicants must undergo 16 hours of in-person training on a variety of topics including “General firearm safety”, storage practices, de-escalation, and suicide prevention; instruction that must be provided by “Duly Authorized Instructors.” So who exactly is authorized to conduct this instruction? At least one county clerk in New York says it’s unclear to her who fits the bill.

New rules and regulations that are about to take effect from the Concealed Carry Improvement Act are causing confusion and frustration among applicants in Monroe County. Clerk Jamie Romeo said she sympathizes with them, but new information comes from the state.

As far as concealed carry permits go, Romeo said her office has been booked several weeks out for applicants getting appointments registering for one. During most visits, people are unsure what they’ll have to do after Sep. 1.

“It, unfortunately, did not provide our state agencies a lot of time despite what work was requested of them in the law,” Clerk Romeo said.

… “The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office does provide some training,” Clerk Romeo said. “There are a lot of private entities across the county. Now what we have to do unfortunately is figure out who of the existing training that we have meets these standards and then where those deficiencies are we need to come up with a solution by community or government.”

In their memo, the Division of Criminal and Justice Services labels these teachers as “Duly Authorized Instructors” but doesn’t specify who fits that role.

Despite (or maybe because of) the confusion, many New Yorkers are rushing to apply for their carry permits ahead of the September 1st effective date for the new rules. In Lockport, New York on Thursday a line of about 80 people formed outside the doors of the Niagara County Courthouse ahead of its opening; all of them on hand to submit their applications for a carry permit.

Those waiting, some for more than six-hours, said they felt a need for protection of themselves and their businesses. They also stressed that the new state laws passed by the legislature were going to make qualifying for the permit more difficult, so they were applying before it went into effect.

The average applicants in past years in Niagara County for the permit was between 1,000 and 1,100 applicants, County Clerk Joe Jastrzemski said. In 2021, he noted that 1,429 individuals applied for the permit. In the past nine days almost 700 applicants have been filed.

“One individual was at the doors at 5:30 a.m.,” Jastrzemski said and added that there were still more waiting at approximately 4:30 p.m.

All of the applicants interviewed said that this was their first time filing.

Marc Werth, a college student studying global affairs at the University at Buffalo said, “A lot of crazy stuff was happening recently,” and while he was aware he couldn’t bring the gun on campus, he had heard that the qualifying for the permit was going to be more difficult in the light of the new law, so he decided to get it before the Sept. 1 deadline. He came in at 11 a.m. and was still waiting as 5 p.m. approached.

Kim Blackley, another first-time applicant, similarly said that she felt like it was, “now or never.”

“With the new law coming into effect, I feel like it’s potentially now or never with the new regulations they’re trying to make,” she said. She had been waiting for five hours.

The Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen was supposed to make it easier for law-abiding citizens to access their right to bear arms in self-defense. Instead, because lawmakers in Albany refuse to treat the Second Amendment as protecting a genuine right, gun owners like Blackley are rightfully concerned that it will be harder than ever to exercise their right to carry. In addition to the new training requirements, New York is also set to impose bans on the lawful carrying of firearms in many public spaces and virtually all privately-owned locations (only some private property owners are able to opt-in and allow for concealed carry on their premises), and bringing a firearm into a “gun-free zone” will soon be a felony offense punishable by several years in prison.

Despite the efforts by New York lawmakers to make it more legally dangerous to exercise your Second Amendment rights and the confusion over how these new laws will be implemented in practice, demand for carry permits is still strong. In fact, it’s probably going to ramp up substantially next Monday, though some or all of the state’s new restrictions on the right to carry could still be iced by a federal judge over their questionable constitutionality before they take effect on September 1st. One way or the other, next week is going to be the start of another chapter in the fight over the right to keep and bear arms; not only in New York State but across the entire country.