Even as the Buffalo Police Department attempts to further explain its position on a new policy to seek out guns from the families of those recently deceased, gun rights advocates are blasting the agency.
Under fire is the new directive by Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda ordering his officers to visit the homes of pistol permit holders who have recently departed to inquire about the former’s handgun. According to the New York State Police, the administrator of a deceased’s estate has 15 days to lawfully dispose of a gun held on a pistol permit. Should they not be able to pass it on within the limits of the law, they must surrender it to law enforcement who can hold it for up to two years while the weapon may still be disposed of.
Alan Gottlieb, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms called the tactic in a statement Friday, “not simply cold-hearted, it is ghoulish.”
Gottlieb described the policy as a classic case of gun registration leading to gun confiscation.
“This is the kind of behavior one might expect in a police state, but not the United States,” Gottlieb explained. “But it proves that the anti-gun mindset knows no boundaries. From now on, no gun control zealot will be able to dismiss and ridicule the concerns of law-abiding firearms owners that there is no reason to fear gun registration, no matter what form it takes. This explains why gun owners are opposed to registration and other forms of record-keeping and permit laws.”
“What’s worse,” he added, “is that this effort could forever drive a wedge between police and honest citizens whose only crime is that they exercised their Second Amendment rights.”
Buffalo Police, who have posted the policy on its Facebook page, omit mention of the two-year clause in which the department would store the firearms in question, only mentioning the 15-day turn over requirement. It does advise the transfer can occur to a licensed gun dealer, another pistol permit holder or police.
City code forbids disposing of a firearm unless it is to a gunsmith or licensed firearms dealer or as part of a testamentary bequest such as directed by a will. However, these guns can be voluntarily surrendered.
Agency officials sought to justify the reasons behind the new policy to local media Friday.
“Fifty percent of all weapons used in crimes in the state of New York originate in the state of New York, so again, it’s just a program that’s intended to allow for the proper disposition of these firearms once a pistol permit holder dies,” said Buffalo Police Department spokesman Lt. Jeff Renaldo. “It’s not an attempt to restrict anybody’s gun rights or take property from people. It’s just an attempt to ensure that the proper disposition occurs with these weapons.”
However, legal experts argue that the agency’s standing to directly seize firearms may be shaky at best.
“If a police officer came to my door without a warrant signed by a judge, I’m not giving them anything. Most people don’t know that and get intimidated,” said Dominic Saraceno, a Buffalo area defense attorney.