Sheriff Stymied In Ammo Purchase After New Law Kicks In
New regulations that require state-conducted background checks for gun and ammunition buyers in New York state recently left one area resident in the lurch.
The individual? Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone.
“On Sept. 22, I attempted to purchase two boxes of shotgun shells at a local sports store,” Quattrone told The Post-Journal. “These shells were to be used at a trap/skeet shoot that I was sponsoring to raise funds for a new nonprofit organization.”
What would have been a routine purchase just weeks earlier turned into a headache — one growing in intensity for some owners of guns and gun shops. It’s the result of the Concealed Carry Improvement Act that Gov. Kathy Hochul passed last year. Part of the law that went in effect Sept. 13 mandates background checks for ammunition purchases.
In addition to now running federal criminal background checks on gun buyers, the New York State Police also has been tasked with performing the checks on ammo buyers.
“Prior to being permitted to purchase the ammunition, the store spent the 15 minutes or so entering my data in their computer to complete the background check,” Quattrone recounted. “The status came back ‘Delayed.’ We waited another 15 minutes with no update, so I had to leave the store without completing the purchase.”
Approval for Quattrone’s purchase didn’t come for another 25 hours — one hour after the fundraiser ended.
“Previous to the new practice of background checks for ammunition, I would have been able to purchase ammunition from the club where the shoot was held,” the sheriff said. “Due to the new regulation, clubs are not selling the ammunition.”
He added, “There have been attempts to get clarity for the clubs regarding to selling ammunition for use during the events and practices but we have received conflicting information. The clubs are widely choosing to error on the side of caution and not sell until a definite decision is made.
Bruce Piatz, owner of M&M Sports Den in Jamestown, said selling ammunition has become a cumbersome process with a system that “crashes often” and lacks seller support. “It’s a mess,” Piatz previously told The Post-Journal.
He further lamented, “I know several customers who walked out and said, ‘I’ll just go across the border.’ So instead of us and the state getting a fee, Pennsylvania reaps the benefits.”
State and local government officials have called on Hochul to end the “unconstitutional” requirement of state-conducted background checks for gun and ammunition buyers.
During a recent press conference in Niagara County, state Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, said the new regulations are unworkable.
“It’s not making anyone safer. This is not about safety,” Ortt said in a story reported by the Niagara Gazette. “This is about making it harder to own a gun, harder to exercise the right of operating and using that firearm, whether it’s for hunting or just for keeping yourself safe in your own home.”
Quattrone has similar feelings.
“I do not believe that this regulation is making our community any safer but is actually hindering law-abiding sportsman and gun owners from being able to purchase ammunition,” he said. “Responsible gun ownership includes not only being safe with the gun, storage in a safe place, but also being proficient with the gun.”
He said delays or outright denials for ammunition purchases may hinder the “opportunity to safely practice using your guns.” He’s also concerned about the status of local youth programs and clubs to provide ammunition for the programs.
“These youth programs do a wonderful job of teaching them safety and responsibility as well as an opportunity for a great healthy activity for many young people in our community,” Quattrone said.
“While I am a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, I also believe the responsibility is to be safe, responsible and proficient with any firearm you intend to carry or use. Law-abiding citizens and those who have previously been approved to purchase guns and been approved a Conceal Carry Permit have been delayed purchase of ammunition.
“This background check for ammunition seems to be a way to limit our Second Amendment rights — being done in a backdoor manner.”
The sheriff also is concerned for local businesses that rely on local sportsman to purchase ammunition and guns. There’s also the chance local residents will travel to nearby Pennsylvania to purchase ammunition.
“With hunting season upon us I am also hoping that our hunters have been able to purchase ammunition — ammunition that is needed to ensure their guns are shooting accurately which is important for safe and humane hunting practices,” Quattrone said. “I wonder what our community would do if people decided not to hunt and we started seeing animals starving due to over-population and how the impact would be on car versus deer collision.”