GOP Senator Proposes State Pay Fee For Background Checks

State Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, is pictured speaking at the opening of a new emergency at the Clifton Springs Hospital and Clinic recently.

A Republican member of the state Senate wants New York state to pay the cost of background checks ammunition sales.

Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, recently introduced S.7650 in the Senate to amend a portion of the state’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act. State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, joined Stow resident William Ortman and state Assemblyman David DiPietro in a federal lawsuit challenging the 2022 gun law.

Helming’s proposal would stipulate the costs related to the creation and maintenance of a database for ammunition sales be borne by the state with no cost passed on to customers or retailers for ammunition background checks.

“The background check fee structure is nothing more than a tax on current and prospective gun owners,” Helming wrote in her legislative justification. “Prior to the implementation of the 2022 legislation, firearm sale background checks were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at no cost to the buyer or retailer. Unfortunately, despite record inflation and economic turmoil, New York state has once again upped the ante for those legal firearm patrons simply exercising their constitutional rights. Instituting background check fees will not affect the proliferation of illegal weapons or ammunition in New York. Instead, it will only serve as another deterrent for sportspeople, law enforcement, and other law-abiding citizens who wish to participate in the firearm economy.”

The state’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act shifts New York state from a jurisdiction in which the FBI conducts firearms-related National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background checks, to one in which the New York State Police are the “point of contact” for background checks.

It requires the State Police to conduct background checks on all firearm and ammunition purchases in the state and authorizes the State Police to charge fees for each background check on purchases and transfers. Those fees have been set at $9 for firearms and $2.50 for ammunition. The State Police are also required to create and maintain a statewide firearms license and records database to be used for ammunition sales as well as for the certification and recertification of permits and assault weapon registration.

State lawmakers passed the Concealed Carry Improvement Act after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s previous concealed carry laws because they required people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry a concealed weapon in public. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, noted states can require people to get a license to carry a gun, Kavanaugh wrote, and condition that license on “fingerprinting, a background check, a mental health records check, and training in firearms handling and in laws regarding the use of force, among other possible requirements.”

Borrello, Ortman and DiPietro argue there is no history of a tax on ammunition in the state’s history, which is one condition the Supreme Court placed on legislation that infringes on the Second Amendment. In a statement Monday, Borrello echoed Helming’s argument that the ammunition tax is a tax on the exercise of the Second Amendment.


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