- "Beginning May 15, personal information contained on your New York State gun permit, including your home address, could be available to any member of the public who asks for it" NY State Senator Patti Ritchie announced in an email message to her constituents on Feb 17.
- According to the NY State Division of State Police website, "the NYSAFE Act protects the privacy of pistol license holders." But this protection is not automatic. Gun owners must "notify a County Clerk that they do not wish for their information to be released publicly.
Under the law, current licensees and new applicants may make this notification to their licensing officer using a form approved by the Superintendent of the New York State Police.
This provision of the new NY SAFE Act requires gun owners to officially request to protect the privacy of their personal information. In order to take advantage of this new law and protect their privacy, they need to complete and file a gun permit privacy form. The forms can be downloaded here.
Once completed, the gun permit privacy forms can be delivered to any county clerk for filing with NY State. But, even after filing the form, the county or state can still refuse the request. The NY State website does not specify under what conditions the request can be denied.
- Pistol permit information held by the county is currently exempt from Freedom Of Information Law (FOIL) and will be until May 15, 2013. At that time, those who have submitted the form will remain exempt from the FOIL provisions unless the licensing authority has refused to grant the exemption. Those wishing to apply for the exemption should do so by May 15, 2013, to avoid any disclosure.
- If gun owners miss the May 15 deadline, they may file the form anytime. However, after May 15, if gun owners have not yet filed an exemption form, their information may be subject to release under FOIL.
If you file a form in the future and your request is granted, your information will once again be exempt from FOIL.
The issue of protecting the identity and other personal information of New York gun owners first became news when in Dec 2012, the NY City area newspaper, the Journal News, published an interactive map depicting the identities of every registered handgun owner in Rockland and Westchester Counties.
"We felt sharing as much information as we could about gun ownership in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings,” said CynDee Royle, the Journal News’ editor and vice president of news in an interview reported by Time magazine on Dec 26.
However, this information, once public, can be used for other purposes. “Having a list of who has a gun is like gold," said Walter T. Shaw, 65, a former burglar and jewel thief who the FBI blames for more than 3,000 break-ins that netted some $70 million in the 1960s and 1970s, "why rob that house when you can hit the one next door, where there are no guns?
"Protecting your rights as a gun owner is important to me—that’s why I voted against Albany’s unnecessary new gun control law" Senator Ritchie continued in her message. " I also am concerned about protecting your privacy and security, and hope you will take advantage of the privacy protection provisions of this law.
In explaining why Senator Ritchie voted against the NY SAFE Act, she stated "attempts to restrict legal ownership and possession of firearms from responsible sportsmen—rather than focusing on criminals—will not enhance the safety of our communities, and deprives law-abiding citizens of an important right under the Constitution of the United States."
- Statewide opposition to the strict gun control law continues to grow. At least nine counties have either passed or have pending resolutions calling for the repeal of the NY SAFE Act with more expected in the near future.
- On Thursday, 28 February, there is going to be a "Civil Rights – 2nd Amendment Rally" at noon at the Legislative Building, 80 Swan Street, in Albany. This rally, sponsored by: the National Rifle Association, NSRPA, activist JJ Johnson–Smith and the Second Amendment Foundation, is to protest the NY SAFE Act gun control law.
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