Relates to pistol permit privacy and makes all personal information regarding pistol or revolver licensees confidential except to law enforcement agencies and to individuals requesting information about a named individual.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to pistol permit privacy
PURPOSE: To require that when a person, other than law enforcement, requests a search of the pistol or revolver automated listing under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) that it is limited to a search by specific name.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 - Subdivision 5 of Section 400.00 of the Penal Law, as amended by Chapter 332 of the laws of 1994, is amended to make the names of any pistol or revolver permit holders confidential except if a request is made under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) for a specific individual by name.
Any requests for the entire list of licensees or for all the licensees in a geographic area shall be denied except if requested by law enforcement.
Section 2 - Sets forth an immediate effective date.
EXISTING LAW: In 1994, Subdivision 5 of Section 400.00 of the Penal Law was amended by the Legislature to restrict public access to the contents of an approved application for a firearm license, by permitting disclosure only of the name and address of the approved applicant.
Before the 1994 amendment, subdivision 5 provided that all information from an approved firearm permit application shall be deemed as part of the public record and therefore released upon request under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
The law was changed in 1994 to address the concerns that providing all of the information on a pistol or revolver holder's permit application could release information which would endanger the life or safety of the applicant and possibly others. Such information includes whether the permit holder transports large amounts of cash or other valuables which would give criminals an opportunity and a ready source of information to commit a crime against such person.
JUSTIFICATION: A new abuse of the public access to New York State's pistol or revolver permit registry now exists due to the creation of websites on the Internet that contain the name and address of every person in the State of New York who holds a permit for a pistol or revolver.
As in 1994, the last time this law was amended, there are important personal and public safety reasons to make amendments to the information available to the public regarding the pistol or revolver automated listing maintained by the New York State Police.
As the law is currently written, it allows for an individual to make a FOIL request through the New York State Police or the New York City Police for the entire database of pistol or revolver holders in the State and in NYC. In fact, the Director of Public Information for the New York State Police has stated that numerous requests have been made
in recent years for the entire database and they have had no choice but to release the information under current law.
Having this information available online and readily accessible to anyone creates serious safety issues not only for the permit holders and their family members but also for individuals who do not have guns in their home.
Criminals now have a roadmap of the homes that have guns and those that do not. This can be easily utilized to target homes to steal the pistol or revolver from the person's address that is listed on the permit. Not only does this possibly put guns in the hands of dangerous individuals but it also creates the chance of the permit holder or a family member being harmed during an attempted robbery.
Also disturbing is the fact that having this list available not only tells criminals where legally owned handguns are located but it also tells them which homes are not protected by a person with a pistol permit. This is once again a roadmap for individuals who want to break into someone's home to either commit a robbery, assault, rape or other heinous crime without having to worry that their intended victim possesses any firepower to ward off the attack.
Clearly, this information in the wrong hands creates a risk to not only the permit holders and their families but also to their neighbors and the rest of society. The threat of guns being stolen or individuals being harmed due to the public access of this entire list is too menacing to allow it to continue.
Therefore, this legislation will limit the ability of a person to access the NYS or NYC permit or revolver registry by denying requests for the entire list or database. However, recognizing that some individuals may have a valid reason for wanting to know if a specific person has a firearm permit, this legislation still allows for public access with a FOIL request. Consequently, to rule out the intentional abuse of the public access and posting of an entire database or geographic area of permit holders, this bill will only allow a search of the list with a request for a specifically named individual.
New York is among about one-third of states nationwide that allow the disclosure of any pistol permit data.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: This is a new bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 8456 IN SENATE July 30, 2010 ___________Introduced by Sen. GRIFFO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to pistol permit privacy THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 5 of section 400.00 of the penal law, as amended by chapter 332 of the laws of 1994, is amended to read as follows: 5. Filing of approved applications. (A) The application for any license, if granted, shall be filed by the licensing officer with the clerk of the county of issuance, except that in the city of New York and, in the counties of Nassau and Suffolk, the licensing officer shall designate the place of filing in the appropriate division, bureau or unit of the police department thereof, and in the county of Suffolk the county clerk is hereby authorized to transfer all records or applica- tions relating to firearms to the licensing authority of that county. The name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted shall be
[a public record]CONFIDENTIAL AND SHALL NOT BE MADE AVAILABLE EXCEPT AS SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPH (B) OF THIS SUBDIVISION. Upon application by a licensee who has changed his place of residence such records or applications shall be transferred to the appropriate officer at the licensee's new place of residence. A dupli- cate copy of such application shall be filed by the licensing officer in the executive department, division of state police, Albany, within ten days after issuance of the license. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to change the expiration date or term of such licenses if otherwise provided for in law. (B) THE DIVISION OF STATE POLICE SHALL MAINTAIN AN AUTOMATED LISTING OF EVERY LICENSE HOLDER ISSUED A LICENSE FOR A PISTOL OR REVOLVER PURSU- ANT TO THIS SECTION. SUCH LISTING SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE, UPON REQUEST, PROVIDED, THAT: (I) ONLY REQUESTS RELATING TO A NAMED LICENSEE SHALL BE HONORED OR MADE AVAILABLE ONLINE; ANDEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD18015-04-0 S. 8456 2
(II) A REQUEST FOR THE ENTIRE LIST OF LICENSEES, OR FOR ALL LICENSEES IN A GEOGRAPHIC AREA, SHALL BE DENIED, EXCEPT TO ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBDIVISION, THE TERM "LAW ENFORCEMENT AGEN- CY" SHALL MEAN THE DIVISION OF STATE POLICE, ANY NEW YORK STATE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, ANY POLICE DEPARTMENT OF ANY CITY, VILLAGE OR TOWN WITHIN NEW YORK STATE, THE POLICE FORCE OF ANY NEW YORK STATE AUTHORITY OR AGENCY, THE STATE POLICE FORCE OF ANY OTHER STATE AND ANY FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.