New York's ammo background checks are still a chaotic mess

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

It’s been almost two weeks since the New York State Police took over running background checks on gun and ammo purchase throughout the state, and after a rough start, things are… well, still a mess, to be honest.


Gun store owner Joseph Olscamp told Buffalo television station WKBW on Monday that up to 75% of his customers are still being delayed in their purchases; something that rarely happened at Escarpment Arms before the new background check measures were rolled out on September 13th.

Olscamp has watched one of his customers wait almost an entire week for his approval to go through.

Customers at other stores have had the same experience.

Bill Godios from is a retired police and corrections officer, who goes to shooting range every now and again.

The South Buffalo man went to pick up some ammo for his pistol, but his background check took 22 hours to approve.

“It was an inconvenience but not a major inconvenience. I’m not who you have to worry about. It’s the bad guys you have got to worry about.”

That might not have been a big deal for Godios, but a one-day delay is going to be a major headache for many gun owners in rural areas, who might not be able to pop around the corner to check in on the status of their background check. And considering the sheer number of customers that are experiencing lengthy delays, it stands to reason that at least some of those folks aren’t going to be visiting their local shops anymore, but will instead deal with a longer drive to neighboring states where they can stock up with larger purchases.

The NY State Police put out a boilerplate statement in response to an inquiry from WKBW, telling the station that “The NYS NICS unit processes transactions immediately. However, some responses will take longer than others depending on the amount of research required.” That’s not satisfactory to retailers like Olscamp, especially when they see customers walking out their door empty-handed and frustrated.


Despite those assurances, Olscamp has noticed a pattern to these long delays.

“I have not had one single background check go through after 6 p.m.”

These delays have come like clockwork, to a point he is considering changes to his stores hours if it continues.

“If people can’t get their products and we’re just going to frustrate them by saying ‘sorry you’re delayed,’ there is really no reason for us to stay open that late.”

Things have gotten so bad that even self-professed gun control supporters like columnist Andrew Waite of the Daily Gazette in Schenectady recognize this is an untenable situation.

Seems to me the best system is to allow verified and registered gun owners to buy ammo for their legally owned firearms without having to jump through insane hoops. Whatever database that’s being used to support this background-check process should have been fully operational with ample support in place well before any law was implemented.

Instead, some gun store representatives in Schenectady told Hupfl they have not been able to get any guidance on the system from state police.

It’s no wonder gun-rights advocates feel marginalized and angry.

“When I opened my business, it involved being something that I had a lot of interest in, I enjoyed and I enjoyed sharing with others. Over the years, things have changed dramatically within the political landscape,” Serafini said. “Our firearms industry has been caught up in information that’s being put forward, and I feel, has been villainized in a lot of ways.”


As we discussed with the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Larry Keane on today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co, that’s definitely the case. The gun control lobby has never shied away from going after gun makers and sellers, but there’s a new emphasis on demonizing the firearms industry as of late. Let’s face it, Kathy Hochul would be thrilled if these new background check measures (and the chaos they have caused) resulted in some gun stores shutting down because their customers have decided it’s not worth the hassle. Is that the reason for the new checks? No, but it would be a bonus for the anti-gunners if and when that happens.

While we already know about the needless delays that many customers are being subjected to, it’s a little early to tell how many false denials the new system is generating. That’s been a huge problem in California, where some 750 prohibited persons were denied along with more than 100,000 lawful transactions in the first year the state’s ammunition background check law was in effect. Again, it’s too early to tell if the same thing is happening in New York, but given the experience of both retailers and customers to date I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there are also a large number of gun owners who are being turned away without cause.

New York’s ammunition background check law was supposed to be rolled out as part of the SAFE Act a decade ago, but then-governor Andrew Cuomo quietly suspended that section of the law when the New York State Police said they weren’t really feasible. Hochul revived the measure as part of her crackdown on gun owners following the Bruen decision, and it’s clear that the system still isn’t anywhere close to being ready for prime time. With the state legislature firmly in control of anti-gunners, any relief is probably going to come from the courts… and thankfully there’s already been one lawsuit filed that aims to strike down the measure as a violation of our Second Amendment rights.


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