New York Won’t Reveal How Few Residents Have Complied With New Gun Registration Rules

by J.D. Tuccille, Reason.com  |  published on December 5, 2013

governor-andrew-cuomo
I’d bet good money that New York is experiencing the same low compliance with its new gun registration law as Connecticut. But that’s a bet you can’t take unless you have insider information. While Nutmeg State officials publicly lament the slow trickle of registration forms, New York officials refuse to reveal their numbers at all. To keep their secrets, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s troopers rely on an odd legal interpretation, with which even the state official who oversees government transparency strongly disagrees. Given the unbroken history of failure demonstrated by firearms registration schemes, and the organized campaign of resistance in that state, that’s almost certainly because New Yorkers are defying the law.

Journalists and gun rights advocates alike have been spurned in their efforts to get the state police to disclose registration figures. Official letters refusing requests all cite a provision of the SAFE Act that reads:

RECORDS ASSEMBLED OR COLLECTED FOR PURPOSES OF INCLUSION IN THE DATABASE CREATED PURSUANT TO SECTION 400.02 OF THIS CHAPTER SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO DISCLOSURE PURSUANT TO ARTICLE SIX OF THE PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW.

But that provision would seem to ban the disclosure of personal information about registrants and license holders, such as names, addresses and specifics about guns owned. That’s a sensitive issue in the state after the Journal News, a New York newspaper, published just such information, leading to burglaries and public controversy. The SAFE Act was written and passed after that incident, when concerns over public disclosure were especially high.

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