Essex County Judge: No changes to pistol permits

Essex County Government Center, Elizabethtown

Essex County Government Center, Elizabethtown Photo by Andy Flynn.

ELIZABETHTOWN — Despite concern among local sportsmen to the contrary, the ability to obtain a permit in Essex County to carry a concealed pistol in public has not been taken away.

According to Essex County Judge Richard B. Meyer, there have been talks statewide about a uniform pistol permit policy that would allow pistols under certain “restricted” circumstances — like for hunting and target shooting — but not for carrying concealed in public.

Essex County is one of a handful of New York counties that allows “full” or “unrestricted” carry, meaning a pistol can be concealed and carried in public for the purpose of self defense.

Recently, Meyer began sending out a two-page cover letter with all new pistol permit applications, drawing attention to a November 2012 court decision that upheld the ability of state court judges to restrict a pistol permit to only certain uses such as hunting, target shooting or the defense of a person’s home.

The ruling, handed down by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said county judges, acting as pistol licensing officers, can restrict permits and grant the right to carry a concealed weapon in public only to those who show they have a special need for self-protection greater than others in the general community.

That led local sportsmen to believe that Meyer was stating in the letter that he intended to stop issuing unrestricted permits and perhaps even require those with existing permits to give up their right to carry concealed when they recertify their permit or apply for a duplicate one.

New York’s new SAFE Act now requires pistol permit holders to recertify their license every five years.

But Meyer said he has not changed anything formally at this time. He said the letter that went out with new pistol permit applications was for “informational purposes only.”

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