LOCKPORT, N.Y. — The New York State pistol permit recertification process has been on the radar of the Niagara County Clerk's Office for roughly a year.
"We started talking about it and trying to get the word out that anybody that got their pistol permit pre-2013 had to recertify," Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski, R, said.
With the January 31 deadline quickly approaching, Jastrzemski said he still has major concerns.
"We received an email from the State Police notifying us that as of mid-September, only a little over 5,000 individual pistol permit holders had recertified in Niagara County," he said.
Jastrzemski said there are more than 28,000 permit holders in Niagara County that are required to recertify. Since October, he's met with numerous community groups and held four public meetings around the county.
"I reached out to my fellow legislators, our county legislators and some of our town supervisors to ask if we could start strategically holding meetings and town halls throughout the county so that we could get the word out," he said.
The clerk said he's probably spoken to at least 500 people in-person. He had another meeting scheduled Monday with the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs and a fifth town hall is set for Wednesday.
"Most of all, what I want to do is get the word out. It's amazing how many people did not receive letters from the State Police, notifying that they had to do this," Jastrzemski said.
State Police said because this is the first time New York has required permit holders to recertify, they don't know exactly how many active permit holders there are and it is possible some people did not receive letters. In January, the agency mailed approximately 350,000 statewide and so far about 175,000 people have filed for recertification.
Jastrzemski said he has no plans to send similar letters in Niagara County.
"This is not a county mandate. This is a New York State mandate," he said. "I don't have the money in my budget to do it and it would become an unfunded mandate to the taxpayers of Niagara County if I was to do something like that."
The clerk said he will continue to make his presentation and plans to hold two more town halls after Wednesday.
"We're told, and they haven't wavered from this, ‘if you don't recertify, your pistol permit will be revoked.’ The question of who, what where and how, they haven't answered that yet as of today," he said.