BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – Clerks at the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office have been busy, with much of the work now focused on a new flood of pistol permit applications, which they say is the result of the state's new gun control law, the New York SAFE Act.
Saratoga County Sheriff Jim Bowen calls it overwhelming, saying he has more than 600 people who have applied for a gun license and are still waiting to be fingerprinted.
“We have a backlog of 624 people waiting to get a new license in this county,” Bowen said Thursday. “People have panicked since this law has been passed that they can't get a license.”
Bowen says it will take his employees a full year to get through all the paperwork they have already received, and says it is only expected to get busier when the mental health provision of the law takes effect.
To handle the extra work, Bowen applied for and has received the go-ahead to hire an additional Clerk which brings the total up to six. But that, in turn, creates an additional expense.
Bowen says it should be the state, and not the county, footing the bill for the $65,000 a year, including benefits, position.
“The legislators and the governor never gave the county any money for this,” Bowen said. “They put $38 million of taxpayer money into the state police to put this new law together. They didn't give one dime to the locals and this position, which the board just gave me to deal with this backlog, comes right out of the county taxpayer's budget.”
Alan Grattidge, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman, says that amounts to another mandate coming from the state. “Money that has to be spent that we could have used for road improvements or additional road patrols,” he said.
NEWS CENTER's Amy Cutler asked the governor's office about that, a representative saying over the phone the SAFE Act didn't include any time frame, meaning a person could wait a year to get a pistol permit and the county wouldn't need to hire any additional help.
Bowen's response to that: “Is that really right to the people of this county? Are you telling me 'Mr. Smith' or 'Mrs. Jones' can't have their pistol permit right now, they've got to wait?”