By CRAIG FREILICH
Riding the wave of reaction to New York’s new gun law, a Pennsylvania firm has been offering workshops in St. Lawrence County to provide attendees with a Utah “concealed carry” gun permit that local law enforcement authorities say is of no use in New York.
“If they don’t have a New York State pistol permit it won’t help them in New York State even if they possess a Utah permit,” said Potsdam Police Chief Kevin Bates. “It’s still illegal to carry a pistol in New York without a New York permit.
People have been signing up for and attending workshops in Potsdam, West Potsdam, Ogdensburg and Massena. The parking lot and side streets at the Potsdam Veterans of Foreign Wars hall on Market Street were full for a recent class.
“I think it’s because of information people are hearing about their Second Amendment rights,” said St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells.
“It’s not my opinion, but it’s what I’m hearing,” Wells said. “They’re unsure of what the government will do” in light of the tighter rules on guns and ammunition in the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 – the NY SAFE Act. The measure was enacted Jan. 15 after rapid passage through the state Senate and Assembly and signing by Gov. Cuomo in the aftermath of the shootings of 20 young students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last October.
Marie McCarl, executive assistant at Concealed Carry USA, acknowledges “with this course, people can get a Utah non-resident permit.”
The four-hour workshops have also been offered at the Ogdensburg Amvets, the Massena American Legion post, and at the West Potsdam Volunteer Fire Department hall on Blanchard Road.
“We’ve just recently been trying to go out to New York more. We’ve had a great response from everywhere, especially New York, because it’s so difficult to get a permit there, and with the new gun law there, people want to be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” McCarl said.
“If they have a New York permit or intend to get one, as they travel across the states, the Utah permit would be useful,” Potsdam Chief Bates said.
But bring that pistol back to New York without a New York permit, and the bearer is subject to being charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. If it’s loaded and you’re outside of your home or business and you don’t have a permit, that’s a Class C felony, punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 3½ years in prison, up to as much as 15 years.
The Concealed Carry USA classes cover firearms safety and what Utah requires for a permit to carry a concealed firearm there. It includes fingerprinting and taking of a passport-style photo, and filling out the required forms to submit to Utah for the permit.
The cost of the class is $100 per person, plus $51 for the Utah application.
To take the class in most states, people are required to bring a home state concealed-carry permit, but not in New York, according to McCarl.
The result is that people in New York who do not have such a permit in New York can apply for and get a Utah permit which is recognized as valid in most other states, but not here.
A “concealed-carry” permit is different from the handgun permit required in New York for anyone who owns or wants to own a handgun in the state.
“New York will only honor a valid New York State permit” for pistol ownership, said Sheriff Wells, and only a New York permit for carrying a concealed weapon.
Wells said that “many counties within New York issue a ‘concealed carry permit’ through the issuing agent – usually a county court judge.” He said that many counties in New York, including St. Lawrence County, “usually only issue a ‘sportsman carry,’ which only allows carrying to, from and during sportsman activities, such as practice or competition at a range, or for hunting, so it is not a true ‘carry concealed’ permit.”
In some states, a CCW (concealed carry weapon) permit also controls things like pepper spray.