Hotline, Website established for new gun law questions

The questions keep coming in regarding the state’s new gun control law.

Some are being answered. The rest remain a mystery.

In the wake of New York’s sweeping new gun control law, a statewide website and hotline have been established. State Police and other law enforcement agencies in the county are urging those with questions surrounding the comprehensive law to call in or go online.

“We are still getting a lot of people calling us about this legislation,” said Chautauqua County Undersheriff Charles Holder. “A lot of gun dealers are even calling us about certain things. So this has helped so far because we can direct them right to it.”

The website – – lists an array of frequently asked questions regarding the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, ranging from the definition of a military-style weapon to selling a gun to an out of state buyer. A hotline – 1-855-529-4867 – also was set up and will be available during normal business hours Monday through Friday. The hotline will be staffed with a state trooper during those times.

John Bentley, Lakewood-Busti police chief, said his department also has received numerous calls regarding the new law, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo shortly after the state Senate and Assembly overwhelming approved it. Bentley said some callers have asked questions, while the rest have expressed frustration and anger over the law.

“The thing is pretty vague,” Bentley said of the state’s SAFE Act. “It’s not very specific as it should be, and people are calling us about it.”

The police chief said he isn’t pleased with the law. “It’s not going to do anything,” he said. “It’s not going to stop criminals from getting their hands on the guns.”

He added: “The law is kind of a joke. It doesn’t help those who have mental health problems, and it penalizes those who are responsible. It doesn’t target the problem.”

Some common questions regarding the gun control bill that are being addressed on the website:

Does my military-style weapon need to be sold out of state or given up? According to the State Police, a military-style weapon must be registered by April 15, 2014. A form will be made available no later than April. Those who do not wish to register their weapons can sell them to the State Police or anyone out of state by January 2014.

What if I have a magazine that holds more than 10 bullets? State Police say a magazine can be permanently modified so it holds no more than 10 rounds, as the new law dictates. A magazine designed to hold more can either be modified, discarded or sold to a gun dealer or buyer out of state. Starting in April, only magazines holding seven bullets will be sold in New York state.

What if I want to buy a gun from someone in the state who is not a dealer? According to the law, a background check must be done on the buyer by a dealer. The dealer cannot charge more than $10 for the background check, and a form from the dealer to the buyer must be provided starting in March that shows if he or she passed the check.

The gun control law also enacts tougher penalties for those who use illegal guns. According to State Police, the murder of a first responder engaged in their duties will be classified as a Class A-1 felony, with a mandatory penalty of life in prison without parole. Possession of a firearm on school grounds or on a school bus will go from a misdemeanor to a Class E felony.

The tougher penalties are in reaction to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and shooting deaths of two firefighters in West Webster.

In related news, Holder said the Sheriff’s Office has brought in a part-time employee to help handle pistol permit applications. Holder said the number of permit requests has risen in recent weeks due to the gun law, and an additional employee was needed.

“We had enough money in our budget to bring in a part-time employee,” Holder said.