Fact check: Document with false guidance on New York gun laws circulates online




  • In Business
  • 2022-09-27 00:16:16Z
  • By USA TODAY

The claim: New York State's Office of Pistol Licensing announced all pistol licenses are now concealed-carry

Among the Supreme Court's paradigm-shifting decisions in June was striking down a New York law that required "proper cause" to carry a handgun.

A new law proposed in light of the decision took effect on Sept. 1. It includes new requirements for concealed-carry permits and prohibits guns in "sensitive" public places. People with guns can only take them into private businesses with permission.

In the midst of confusion and legal challenges in response to the law came a social media post purporting to show the New York State Office of Pistol Licensing in Oneida County announcing a slew of licensing changes.

"ALL NYS Pistol Licenses are now Concealed Carry regardless of what is stamped on the top or back," read part of the Aug. 19 Facebook post that was shared more than 700 times in just over a week. "NO NYS Pistol License holder NEEDS to make a special trip into the Pistol Licensing Office to make this happen."

The post went on to claim that sporting licenses no longer exist and that law enforcement personnel would be considered "Unrestricted - Concealed Carry."

But the Oneida County Office of Pistol Permit Licensing said it did not issue any such document, and experts and government officials said the new law does not enact the changes claimed in the Facebook post. There is still a standard process to obtain a concealed-carry permit, and the new law doesn't affect the status of past licenses, officials said.

USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.

People walk past a \"Gun Free Zone\" sign posted on 40th Street and 7th Avenue on August 31, 2022 in New York City. Signs announcing a \"gun-free zone\" were posted at every entry and exit point of the Times Square area as a New York law limiting where firearms can be legally carried in public is set to go into effect on Thursday.
People walk past a \"Gun Free Zone\" sign posted on 40th Street and 7th Avenue on August 31, 2022 in New York City. Signs announcing a \"gun-free zone\" were posted at every entry and exit point of the Times Square area as a New York law limiting where firearms can be legally carried in public is set to go into effect on Thursday.  

Oneida County office says document 'did not come from this office'

A statewide "Office of Pistol Licensing" does not exist, and the New York state website says pistol permits are issued by county.

Oneida County does have an Office of Pistol Permit Licensing, but Assistant Pistol Licensing Officer Dan Sullivan told USA TODAY the document does not match the office's letterhead, and the information included "did not come from this office."

And the claims in the document are wrong, according to officials and legal experts.

Janine Kava, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, told USA TODAY the law "did nothing to change the status of pistol permits issued prior to that date."

A document issued by the New York State Police said those who were given concealed-carry permits before Sept. 1 have until Aug. 31, 2023, to re-certify their status.

Andrew Lieb, a New York civil rights attorney, said the document's content is not in line with the language in Senate Bill S51001. He added that the claim about pistol licenses automatically becoming concealed-carry permits is "perhaps the No. 1 falsity."

Under Article 400 of the state's penal law, as outlined in the bill, applicants must complete a 16-hour classroom and two-hour live-fire firearm safety training course prior to obtaining or renewing a concealed-carry license.

Other claims also wrong

The document's claims about sporting licenses and law enforcement are also off base.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation still requires sporting licenses for people who want to hunt, fish or trap in the state, contrary to the post's claim. The department announced on Aug. 3 that hunting and trapping licenses were on sale for the 2022-2023 season, and the website to purchase them was still active as of Sept. 26.

Fact check: False claim about mandatory minimum for New York gun crimes

A document on the department's website also notes the new law "does NOT affect how lawful hunting may occur in New York."

Though members of law enforcement are exempt from the prohibition on carrying guns in sensitive places, Lieb said they are still required to apply for concealed-carry licenses. That guidance was echoed by the New York State Police on Aug. 27.

Lieb noted the word "unrestricted," as mentioned in the Facebook post, does not appear in the bill.

More: Here's how states with the highest gun-death rates have changed their gun laws recently

Warren Eller, associate professor in the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at The City University of New York, agreed the document doesn't line up with the new law.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the New York State's Office of Pistol Licensing announced all pistol licenses are now concealed-carry. The Oneida County Office of Pistol Permit Licensing said it did not issue the document in the Facebook post, and experts and government officials said its claims are false.

Our fact-check sources:

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: NY pistol license holders must apply for concealed carry

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