Clerk denies release of pistol permits

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Authorities are bracing for provisions of the state's new SAFE Act to take effect, which could mean a lot more bureaucracy.

The Erie County Clerk's Office has a database of about 75,000 pistol permits and it is growing by the day.

County Clerk Chris Jacobs said, "As of June of last year, we'd had as many pistol permit applications as we did the previous year. So there has been a significant uptick this entire year.

Now Jacobs says handling some of the documentation generated by the state's new gun control law could lead to a blizzard of paperwork, including the renewal of pistol permits every five years. While the recertification is supposed to be handled by State Police, Jacobs says a statewide database still depends on input from the counties.

"Having it connecting with all the other databases that we have, and every other county clerk has, around the state, that is a huge endeavor. It remains to be seen how that will be implemented," Jacobs said.

Clerks' offices might also have to struggle with what information is public and what is not. Pistol permits are considered public documents, so the Buffalo News submitted a Freedom of Information request to the clerk's office, asking for a listing of all pistol permits that have been issued in Erie County. For now, Jacobs has denied their request.

Publishing the names and addresses of pistol permit holders has become a hot button issue after a suburban New York newspaper, the Journal News, published maps showing the addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties.

Jacobs said, "I am going to fight any way I can to keep it private. I believe there are provisions in the existing law which affords me the ability to do that, if I think there is a safety risk, and I do think there is a safety risk."

It may already be a moot point. The new gun law calls for a four month moratorium on releasing the names of permit holders and it allows permit holders to opt out of having their information released on certain conditions.

The Buffalo News stated it never intended to publish a list of pistol permit holders. Rather, it intended to use the database as a tool, just as the newspaper keeps data on voter registration, criminal records, municipal salaries, property assessments, political contributions and tax rates.

You can read more from The Buffalo News explaining why they filed the Freedom of Information request here.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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