Judge Orders Police to Hand Over Private Information About Gun Owners

Posted: Jul 27, 2020 6:35 PM
Judge Orders Police to Hand Over Private Information About Gun Owners

Source: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The New York State Supreme Court last week granted a motion ordering the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to turn over the name, zip codes and license category of anyone who was granted a firearm license in 2018. 

The New York Daily News made the request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request process, which provides public information from government agencies to citizens and journalists. 

According to the lawsuit filed against the NYPD, the newspaper makes the argument that they should have access to the information because their reporters "frequently cover gun-related political and policing issues."

The Daily News argues that the information can be turned over because of a state law – known as the SAFE Act – that declared "that names and addresses of all firearms licenses were public information." 

Under the SAFE Act, gun owners have the ability to opt-out of their information being handed over in FOIA requests but their application has to be approved. It's the information of those that did not opt-out that the newspaper wants.

"The SAFE act requires disclosure of the names and addresses of gun licensees unless they have applied for and been granted an exemption under the statute," the lawsuit stated.

The NYPD denied the request on multiple occasions, citing various reasons, like an "invasion of privacy" and "extraordinary effort" would have to be put forth to collect the records.

The licensing department did, however, provide information about the types of permits that were Issued by zip code from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2017. They did not hand over specific names. After an appeal, the licensing department provided a list of 132 names for people who attempted to opt-out but were denied. The newspaper, however, wasn't happy with the list because it didn't specify what kind of firearm the licensee possessed. 

The court concluded that the department violated the FOIL.

"Absent the SAFE Act exemption, respondent must submit the following information to petitioner: The license category and zip code of 'Members of Service' who were licensed during Calendar Year 2018 (either by renewal or for the first time) be submitted to petitioner," the court ordered. "... respondent may withhold their names. Respondent must also give to petitioner the name, zip code, and license category of those to whom it granted a new or renewal license during Calendar Year 2018. This information covers all licensees who applied prior to Calender Year 2018 but were granted a license during that year."

It's understandable for a publication to want to know about the number of licenses and their types that are handed out in areas. This gives an idea of who is utilizing their Second Amendment rights. It gives insight into buying habits and whether or not they're connected to local events (like riots, burglaries, rapes and murders). 

There is absolutely no reason for the Daily News to have the names of gun owners and what type of firearm they possess. There is no good that can come out of that. What purpose does it serve other than to doxx or shame those who choose to protect themselves with a gun? 

This case right here is what gun owners have been worried about: the ability to create a registry, which could eventually lead to confiscation.