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Lewis County clerk’s office to take over pistol permit sales

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LOWVILLE — Starting at the end of next week, Lewis County pistol permit applications will be handled at the county clerk’s office, not the Sheriff’s Department.

“It’s going to be more efficient,” Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli said.

The impetus for the move is the coming retirement of Cynthia A. Robbins, who runs the sheriff’s pistol permit office at the Public Safety Building on outer Stowe Street.

Rather than refill the part-time position, the sheriff worked with County Clerk Douglas P. Hanno to shift the application site to his office on the first floor of the county office building on North State Street.

Along with some cost savings, the move will allow residents to apply for pistol permits every weekday, rather than just Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays as they can now, Sheriff Carpinelli said.

“It’s going to operate the same as it did up here,” he said.

The final day to apply for permits at the sheriff’s office will be Monday, officials said.

After that, the camera for photo identification cards and other equipment will be moved downtown to the clerk’s office, with tentative plans to begin selling permits from there on March 29.

Hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday.

“We’re going to utilize all the staff so people can get better service,” Mr. Hanno said.

Roughly half the counties in the state, including St. Lawrence, handle pistol permits through their clerks’ offices, Mr. Hanno said, noting permit information is filed in his office already.

However, he cautioned that staff members likely will have a learning curve for handling the additional applications.

“We hope people will be patient with us,” Mr. Hanno said.

Anyone with questions may call the clerk’s office at 376-5333.

Sheriff Carpinelli said that his office still will handle any needed background checks and that he still will be available to talk with residents about permit issues, along with implications of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act passed earlier this year.

While passage of the NY SAFE Act had nothing to do with the switch, the sheriff said, it has led to an increase in pistol permit applications.

“Several hundred” of the more than 4,000 permit-holders in the county also have filed “opt out” forms at the clerk’s office to exempt their personal information from Freedom of Information Law requests, Mr. Hanno said.

Once a pistol permit holder has been protected under the NY SAFE Act from FOIL requests, the public will not have access to their names or addresses. However, law enforcement officials still will have access to the records.

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