NY Gun Owners Can Opt Out of FOIL Requests

Feb 15, 2013

NY Senator Greg Ball and the controversial Journal-News "gun map."
Credit WAMC composite photo by Dave Lucas

Gun owners were shocked when a Westchester County-based newspaper uploaded an interactive map that displayed the names and home addresses of pistol owners in Westchester and Rockland counties. Beginning today, New Yorkers can "opt out" of the public record and not have to worry about their private information being shared.

The Journal-News used the Freedom of Information Law to build its map. More than 50 current and former law enforcement officials then demanded the paper take it down as legislators scrambled to begin efforts to change state laws to make it illegal to make the names of gun owners so public.

State Senator Greg Ball says the map proved to be a nightmare for law-abiding citizens.

In Maine the Bangor Daily News filed a similar request for the names and addresses of all concealed weapons permit holders in that state.

That didn't set well with Augusta Republican Corey Wilson who floated a bill that would make such information private. The State Representative was alarmed after learning that police in New York arrested a man carrying the Journal-News list around and burglarizing houses, and determined to prevent any similar list from being compiled in Maine.

The Bangor Daily News published an editorial statement on its website Thursday afternoon trying to explain its actions - Wilson says the paper has now backed down - but the battle for privacy wages on

In New York, starting today, a component of the NY SAFE Act allows pistol owners to secure their information.

The state police are making forms available at sheriff's and clerk's offices, as well as gun dealerships. Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato says the form cannot be FOILed by any media outlet. Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall says his office has already received over 800 requests for the opt-out forms.