By the time the Niagara County Courthouse opened on Wednesday morning, 150 people were lined up to apply for permits that would let them carry concealed handguns in public. Nearly 100 had camped out overnight, some staying awake in folding chairs and taking regular walks to keep warm.
The crowd represented an impulse that has become visible in much of New York as hundreds attempt to avoid hours of training and paperwork required by a new gun law, many provisions of which go into effect on Thursday.
The state passed the measure in an effort to continue closely regulating weapons after the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down a century-old law that had strictly limited carrying handguns in public, holding that citizens have a broad right to self protection outside the home.
Since then, New York City has seen a 54 percent increase in concealed-carry permit applications. Oswego County assigned two additional employees to process permits full time. Niagara courthouse officials, who had to divide Wednesday’s crowd into three lines, have handled 150 applications every day this week. And a certified firearms trainer in Suffolk County said that he was fielding as many as 50 phone calls a day from people eager for permits.
Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
-Bob Dylan, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"