After gun owners in recent weeks have flocked to purchase ammunition, the state’s new law requiring background checks for all ammunition purchases has left gun store owners scrambling to work with the New York State Police’s new database.
On Wednesday, the state’s new gun laws went into effect requiring, background checks for all ammunition sales and sales of antique guns.
“We’ve seen an incredible rush of people who are smart enough to be aware of that. If New York’s system went active today, which theoretically, it did,” said Craig Serafini, owner of Upstate Guns & Ammo. “They knew it wasn’t going to work and they are also not interested in having the government oversight into their normal life.”
Serafini said Wednesday morning he had a customer come in to buy ammo, and after the database to recognize the purchase said it was “pending,” the customer left frustrated.
Gun control has been a hot topic in recent years. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed the SAFE Act in 2014, which enacted the strongest gun laws in the nation, but gun owners criticized as political theater. Hochul, after the U.S Supreme Court struck down the state’s gun laws, called a special session in July 2022 to enact new gun laws, including changes to the state’s concealed carry laws, and also passed new requirements for ammunition sales that went into effect this week.
Under state law, the database and sales are required to go through state police. State police did not respond to multiple requests for an interview about the process and how the database is operating. Representatives of two gun stores in Schenectady also said they have not been able to get any guidance from state police, either.
Serafini expressed frustration about the system and that they have not gotten any guidance on how to use the new system or the law.
“They did in typical government fervor of creating a system that didn’t have any alpha testing, beta testing or anything else,” he said. “So, there’s no way that could actually function correctly, because they didn’t do in the software industry what is considered a standard practice of properly deploying it and testing it ahead of time.”
Another gun store in Schenectady said they saw a huge uptick in ammunition sales in recent weeks, but the database worked correctly.
Firearm death continues to be one of the leading deaths in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports gun deaths have hit high record high levels. In 2020, during the pandemic, there were 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the country. It is one of the leading causes of death in this country. No other country has mass shootings like the U.S., either.
Rebecca Fisher, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said the state’s new laws are essential to keeping New Yorkers safe.
“New York state enacted a slate of new laws and the restrictions are reasonable and appropriate to keep us safe,” Fisher said. “With respect to purchasing firearms, purchasing ammunition, is that our gun dealers and retailers are being appropriately covered and properly regulated, as well.”
Tom King is the president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. He said the new system is creating a problem that will lead to more illegal sales. He added he’s been trying to find out information about the new database, but hasn’t been able to find answers.
“We’ve been trying for months to find out what the policies are going to be and how it was going to all work,” King said. “And we couldn’t get an answer.”
Serafini said he’s concerned about the future of his business and other small business owners like himself.
“When I opened my business, it involved being something that I had a lot of interest in, I enjoyed and I enjoyed sharing with others. Over the years, things have changed dramatically within the political landscape,” he said. “Our firearms industry has been caught up in information that’s being put forward, and I feel, has been villainized in a lot of ways. We’re not villains. We’re just our neighbors, your friends.”