County may target law
JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors may urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to exempt firearm permit records from public disclosure.
The board’s Public Safety Committee recommended the action to the full board Tuesday.
Allowing gun permit records to be made public through Freedom of Information Law requests is a bad idea, county officials said.
“I just cannot believe how they think this is OK,” said Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper, committee chairwoman. “It’s an unwarranted invasion of privacy.”
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead told the committee that firearm control legislation – also known as the New York SAFE Act – was signed into law earlier this year. He said it created “serious implications” restricting Second Amendment rights of New York state’s citizens.
Stead said a provision in the law gives citizens who have firearms permits the option to have their names and permit information withheld from public disclosure. He said a waiver form is part of a person’s application packet, but he said the existing provision has created “confusion and new costs” for state agencies, county clerks and sheriff’s departments statewide.
“That put the onus on localities,” Stead said. “It created kind of a cumbersomeness.”
He said a better approach would be to amend pertinent sections of state law and exempt all personal information of firearm permit holders from FOIL disclosure.
“This would say this is the way you should have done it in the first place,” Stead said.
Stead said a number of county clerks statewide say disclosing firearm permit information to the public is an invasion of privacy. He said the state should make such information exempt from FOILs.
He said if broadcast or print media were to publicize names and addresses of people with firearms, it makes it easier for thieves to steal those guns from a person’s home.
The county board will consider the measure June 10.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.