Allows a member of the Niagara county clerk's office to access mental hygiene records to assist in the firearm permit application investigation process.
TITLE OF BILL: An act amending the penal law, in relation to allowing a member of the Niagara county clerk's office to access mental health records for firearm license applications
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To allow the Niagara County Clerk's office to access mental hygiene records to assist in the firearm permit application investigation process. Access will only be granted to a certified employee of the Niagara County Clerk's office who is authorized to access clinical records in accordance with section 33.13 of the Mental Hygiene Law.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill amends subdivision 4 of Section 400.00 of the Penal Law to empower an authorized member of the Niagara County Clerk's office to access the appropriate records of the Office of Mental Health concerning previous or present mental illness of an applicant for a firearms license.
Section 2 of the bill is the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: Currently in Niagara County there has been a severe backlog of pistol permit applications. It appears that the Office of Mental Health (OMH) is behind in processing the background checks due to staffing reductions from budget cuts. The Niagara County Clerk's office, which processes the permits, has suggested that it can perform the requisite background checks and reduce the time to close on permit processing by over 60%. The Clerk's office has indicated it understands that OMH deals with sensitive information, and has a staff member who has the necessary security clearance to perform this function.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: Undetermined savings to the State of New York.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6040 IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 4, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sen. MAZIARZ -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes AN ACT amending the penal law, in relation to allowing a member of the Niagara county clerk's office to access mental health records for firearm license applications THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 4 of section 400.00 of the penal law, as amended by chapter 331 of the law of 2005, is amended to read as follows: 4. Investigation. Before a license is issued or renewed, there shall be an investigation of all statements required in the application by the duly constituted police authorities of the locality where such applica- tion is made. For that purpose, the records of the appropriate office of the department of mental hygiene concerning previous or present mental illness of the applicant shall be available for inspection by the inves- tigating officer of the police authority OR IN NIAGARA COUNTY RECORDS MAY BE ACCESSED BY A CERTIFIED EMPLOYEE OF THE COUNTY CLERK'S OFFICE WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO ACCESS CLINICAL RECORDS IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 33.13 OF THE MENTAL HYGIENE LAW. In order to ascertain any previous criminal record, the investigating officer shall take the fingerprints and physical descriptive data in quadruplicate of each individual by whom the application is signed and verified. Two copies of such finger- prints shall be taken on standard fingerprint cards eight inches square, and one copy may be taken on a card supplied for that purpose by the federal bureau of investigation; provided, however, that in the case of a corporate applicant that has already been issued a dealer in firearms license and seeks to operate a firearm dealership at a second or subse- quent location, the original fingerprints on file may be used to ascer- tain any criminal record in the second or subsequent application unless any of the corporate officers have changed since the prior application, in which case the new corporate officer shall comply with procedures governing an initial application for such license. When completed, oneEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD13352-02-1 S. 6040 2
standard card shall be forwarded to and retained by the division of criminal justice services in the executive department, at Albany. A search of the files of such division and written notification of the results of the search to the investigating officer shall be made without unnecessary delay. Thereafter, such division shall notify the licensing officer and the executive department, division of state police, Albany, of any criminal record of the applicant filed therein subsequent to the search of its files. A second standard card, or the one supplied by the federal bureau of investigation, as the case may be, shall be forwarded to that bureau at Washington with a request that the files of the bureau be searched and notification of the results of the search be made to the investigating police authority. The failure or refusal of the federal bureau of investigation to make the fingerprint check provided for in this section shall not constitute the sole basis for refusal to issue a permit pursuant to the provisions of this section. Of the remaining two fingerprint cards, one shall be filed with the executive department, division of state police, Albany, within ten days after issuance of the license, and the other remain on file with the investigating police authority. No such fingerprints may be inspected by any person other than a peace officer, who is acting pursuant to his special duties, or a police officer, except on order of a judge or justice of a court of record either upon notice to the licensee or without notice, as the judge or justice may deem appropriate. Upon completion of the investi- gation, the police authority shall report the results to the licensing officer without unnecessary delay. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.