The number of pistol permits issued in New York soared 14 percent from 2011 to 2012 in advance of a gun-control law enacted last month, state records showed.
In Westchester County, the number tripled, leading the state.
Amid concerns about tougher gun laws in New York and nationally, residents obtained nearly 20,000 pistol permits in 2012, up about 2,500 from 2011, state police records obtained by Gannett’s Albany Bureau showed.
In Westchester, it went up 204 percent, from 261 issued in 2011 to 793 in 2012. County Clerk Tim Idoni confirmed the increase Wednesday but said he was unclear on the reason for the surge.
He said it takes four to six months in the county to be granted a pistol permit. About 230 permits in Westchester were granted in January 2012, the records show.
“I think it was just an anomaly,” Idoni said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law Jan. 15 the toughest gun-control measure in the nation following the Newtown, Conn., shootings. There also has been talk for years that President Barack Obama would pursue stronger federal laws, which he proposed a day after New York’s law was enacted.
Gun-rights advocates said the concern about new laws might have prompted more people to seek gun permits.
Thomas King, president of the state Rifle & Pistol Association, said it could take on average 20 minutes in New York for police to reach someone’s home in an emergency.
“That’s the reason you are seeing a lot of this,” King said. “They’re afraid their rights are going to be outlawed, and they are also looking to protect themselves.”
Other counties also saw a surge in pistol permits, state police data show. Sixteen of the 57 counties outside New York City had a 50 percent rise or more in permits issued in 2012. Permits were up 27 percent in Rockland, 11 percent in Dutchess, 10 percent in Ulster and 9 percent in Broome.
In Putnam, permits were down 19 percent.