Proposed bill would crack down on illegal ink in Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- These days, just about anyone can get the tools to give a tattoo.

“You an just order everything you would need to off Amazon, it’s not hard. You can do it in a weekend,” said Jon Mirro, owners of the Hand of Doom Tattoo on Elmwood Avenue.

Mirro is also a tattoo artist, who’s went through years of training. His biggest concern with underground ink?

“The basic risk of infection can be come very substantial. Staff infections can turn into blood poisoning and it can lead to death. And it sounds dramatic, but it happens more than you would actually think,” he told News 4.

Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke wants to crack down on those tattooing illegally in our area. Under the “Preventing Underground Tattoo Parlors” law, the penalty for those giving illegal tattoos would change from a code violation to a misdemeanor, punishable by $500 fine and/or a month behind bars.

Currently, health inspectors actually have to see a tattoo being illegally administered to do anything. This new bill, Burke feels, would allow more immediate action.

Mirro said underground tattooing is becoming more popular.

“It’s become a very social thing in that sense, because of the accessibility to the equipment is so easy now. That was one of the things that deterred everyone for years, finding machines was impossible.”

That’s not the case anymore. But finding the craftsmanship of a trained artist isn’t as easy.

Many of Mirro’s clients are adults, looking to have amateur ink from their past fixed.

He has questions about the enforcement aspect of Burke’s measure, but likes the idea of protecting safe, legitimate, tattooing.

Mirro said from his experience, most underground tattooing is being done by minors. He’s curious if their parents would be held accountable, or if teens could be charged with the misdemeanor. Burke said that would be left up to the judge handling the case, and would likely follow state statutes.

Burke’s goal is to stop those facilitating illegal tattoos. He feels getting law enforcement involved is the most effective way to do so. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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