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Onondaga County takes measures to shorten wait for pistol permits

The Onondaga County Sheriff's Department has received the go-ahead to do whatever necessary to ease the pistol permit backlog that's mushroomed in central New York, because of the dramatic increase of the number of permit applications coming into the Syracuse office.

An appointment with the sheriff's office is a necessary part of the pistol permit application process, and in the wake of the New York SAFE Act, which gives New York state the toughest gun control laws in the country, the wait for that appointment has stretched out to over a year, according to Onondaga County Legislator Kevin Homquist.

"Historically if you apply for a pistol permit it was a two-month process.  Because of the dramatically increased demand, it takes 15 months just to get an appointment," said Homquist.

Holmquist hopes to get that  back to a two-month timeframe, which is why the legislature this week asked the sheriff's department to take immediate action to reduce the delays.  Deputy John Baloni says the department has started on that.

"We're implementing some new software, working with the legislature doing that, which should speed up the process significantly, we're moving personnel around trying to ease the backlog," said Baloni. "But some of this is demand driven and it's very difficult to just fix a problem like that without having any resources to throw at it."

Holmquist expects that will change at least on the county level.

"Next year, of course, we're going to have a different budget process.  We're going to have to increase the staffing.  There's no question about it," said Holmquist.

But Baloni says he doesn't expect the demand for permits to ease anytime soon.

"I think as long as quite frankly, the population believes it's Second Amendment rights may be threatened, we're seeing the demand continuing," said Baloni.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.