St. Lawrence County sees big changes in handgun rules

wwny St. Lawrence County sees big changes in handgun rules

CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Big changes in handgun regulations in St. Lawrence County. Handgun owners cheer most of the moves – but not all.

People are now able to take handguns more places in St. Lawrence County. A new judge has brought about a decisive change long sought by many.

“Thrilled. Thrilled. This legislature has been trying to make some inroads with the problem, as I see it – it's a problem,” said Joseph Lightfoot, St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators chairman.

The 'problem' was an almost blanket restriction that handguns could only be used for outdoor sports. It was imposed by County Judge Jerome Richards. He retired.

“For years there have been no permits in St. Lawrence County that have been issued that didn't have restrictions,” said Lightfoot.

Hamilton County Judge Tatiana Coffinger was assigned to the county. She will issue permits without restrictions. People with existing licenses can get them removed. They'll have to take a gun safety course.

Handgun owners are not happy with all of the changes made by the new judge. One is what amounts to an up to two-week waiting period when a person goes to purchase a gun – even though they already have a handgun license.

“To put a waiting period on a handgun, you are basically saying that the original background check by the troopers or the sheriff's department was useless,” said Joseph Russell, Hilltop Hunting and Fishing Supply owner.

So dealers can take the money but can't hand over the gun until the judge approves. Russell said it points to a bigger problem – that handgun regulations vary so much from place to place.

“Basically the people that are feeling the brunt of what's being done are people that work, pay taxes, and have proven they can pass a background check,” said Russell.

A group of county legislators will be meeting with Judge Coffinger January 24 to talk about the new regulations.

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