New gun control law leads to permits, paperwork pile-up

By Matt Porter

March 5, 2013 Updated Mar 6, 2013 at 10:22 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Broome County Sheriff David Harder says the Broome County Permit Office has been overloaded since the state passed the NY SAFE Act.

"The SAFE gun act that came out, created quite a stir," Harder said. "Just in the month of January alone, we had 500 people come in and get applications."

In addition to new permit holders, people with existing permits are showing up to opt out of a public gun registry.

The opt-out clause allows permit holders to choose specific reasons for opting out, but Harder said nearly anyone can cite a safety concern to keep their information private.

"Pick the bottom one on the list, which says you may be harassed. Put 'the burglars will come and break into your house,'" he said, "And that's all you need."

Gun owner Felice Dirienzo, of Binghamton, said he didn't realize his information was public record until it was published by a downstate newspaper.

"I don't really need everybody looking at my personal business," Dirienzo said. "I'm a landlord, so I don't need my tenants looking me up."

The lobby was so full on Friday that Harder put out tea and coffee for residents, some of whom waited as long as two to three hours to get a permit.

Harder said his office is overwhelmed with all of the paperwork. As a result, they will begin closing early at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to process the paperwork. The new hours begin on March 12.

"Right now, we're so buried, the three people can't keep up with the work they're doing," Harder said.

And the sheriff's confidence in Albany to sort everything out is shrinking.

"When it comes to doing the paperwork, it took them a month to come up with the form," he said.

Also being debated are whether police are included in the assault weapons and ammunition ban.

Conservatives say nothing in the law spells out an exemption for police, while the NY SAFE Act information hotline reports an existing law in the state's penal code exempts duty weapons.

Legislators can write a technical amendment to spell out police as an exemption.

The bans take effect April 15.