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STATE LAW PROHIBITS RELEASE OF INFORMATION
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 18, 2013) — On January 7, 2013, The Post & Email asked the Journal News, a Westchester County, NY newspaper which had published the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland, NY Counties as well as permit-holders in those counties residing in Connecticut, if it had broken Connecticut law.
Although corrections officers have reported threats from inmates since their home addresses were published by the Journal News on December 23, the interactive map remains available. [Editor’s Note: Please see update at bottom.] Following its report, the newspaper reportedly hired armed guards on a temporary basis.
While the article asks, “Where are the gun permits in your neighborhood?” it does not identify rifle owners or those obtaining firearms illegally.
At least two burglaries of addresses which were published by the Journal News have been reported. Local police have not drawn a positive correlation between the two events.
Current Connecticut law mandates that the identification and residences of pistol permit holders be kept confidential, although in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, a state representative has introduced a bill which would reverse the law which has been in effect since 1994 if passed.
The Connecticut constitution says that “Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” However, over time, the legislature has passed laws governing who can and cannot own a firearm. Connecticut does not honor gun permits from any other state in the Union.
The Sandy Hook perpetrator did not own the guns he brought with him on December 14 legally, although his mother reportedly did. It is a Class D felony to carry a firearm onto school property without the permission of the school board, and federal law designated public schools as “gun-free zones” in 1995.
Some legislators in New York State wish to pass a law similar to Connecticut’s current law which would make the release of pistol permit-holders’ personal information illegal.
We did not receive a response to our question from the Journal News or from the Connecticut attorney general’s office, which was copied on the email.
On January 18, 2013, The Post & Email contacted the Connecticut Attorney General’s Press Office by telephone and reached Susan Kinsman, the media spokesperson, who had previously responded by email to an inquiry from us in regard to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Sandy Hook survivor.
We identified ourselves and provided contact information to Ms. Kinsman, then posed the question in this way: “Which state law prevails in a situation where the release of information is legal in one state but not in the other, where some of the permit holders reside?”
She did not have an answer but stated that she would contact someone who could provide us with more information. Kinsman also asked us to forward the January 7 email to her personally, which we did.
Update, 1:17 p.m. EST: The following response was received from Connecticut Attorney General spokesperson, Susan Kinsman:
Sec. 29-28. Permit for sale at retail of pistol or revolver. Permit to carry pistol or revolver. Confidentiality of name and address of permit holder. Permits for out-of-state residents. (a) No person who sells ten or more pistols or revolvers in a calendar year or is a federally-licensed firearm dealer shall advertise, sell, deliver, or offer or expose for sale or delivery, or have in such person’s possession with intent to sell or deliver, any pistol or revolver at retail without having a permit therefor issued as provided in this subsection. The chief of police or, where there is no chief of police, the warden of the borough or the first selectman of the town, as the case may be, may, upon the application of any person, issue a permit in such form as may be prescribed by the Commissioner of Public Safety for the sale at retail of pistols and revolvers within the jurisdiction of the authority issuing such permit. No permit for the sale at retail of any pistol or revolver shall be issued unless the applicant holds a valid eligibility certificate for a pistol or revolver issued pursuant to section 29-36f or a valid state permit to carry a pistol or revolver issued pursuant to subsection (b) of this section and the applicant submits documentation sufficient to establish that local zoning requirements have been met for the location where the sale is to take place except that any person selling or exchanging a pistol or revolver for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby or who sells all or part of such person’s personal collection of pistols or revolvers shall not be required to submit such documentation for the location where the sale or exchange is to take place.
(b) Upon the application of any person having a bona fide residence or place of business within the jurisdiction of any such authority, such chief of police, warden or selectman may issue a temporary state permit to such person to carry a pistol or revolver within the state, provided such authority shall find that such applicant intends to make no use of any pistol or revolver which such applicant may be permitted to carry under such permit other than a lawful use and that such person is a suitable person to receive such permit. No state or temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver shall be issued under this subsection if the applicant (1) has failed to successfully complete a course approved by the Commissioner of Public Safety in the safety and use of pistols and revolvers including, but not limited to, a safety or training course in the use of pistols and revolvers available to the public offered by a law enforcement agency, a private or public educational institution or a firearms training school, utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Department of Environmental Protection and a safety or training course in the use of pistols or revolvers conducted by an instructor certified by the state or the National Rifle Association, (2) has been convicted of a felony or of a violation of subsection (c) of section 21a-279, section 53a-58, 53a-61, 53a-61a, 53a-62, 53a-63, 53a-96, 53a-175, 53a-176, 53a-178 or 53a-181d, (3) has been convicted as delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense, as defined in section 46b-120, (4) has been discharged from custody within the preceding twenty years after having been found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect pursuant to section 53a-13, (5) has been confined in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities, as defined in section 17a-495, within the preceding twelve months by order of a probate court, (6) is subject to a restraining or protective order issued by a court in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person, (7) is subject to a firearms seizure order issued pursuant to subsection (d) of section 29-38c after notice and hearing, (8) is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm pursuant to 18 USC 922(g)(4), (9) is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States, or (10) is less than twenty-one years of age. Nothing in this section shall require any person who holds a valid permit to carry a pistol or revolver on October 1, 1994, to participate in any additional training in the safety and use of pistols and revolvers. Upon issuance of a temporary state permit to the applicant, the local authority shall forward the original application to the commissioner. Not later than sixty days after receiving a temporary state permit, an applicant shall appear at a location designated by the commissioner to receive the state permit. Said commissioner may then issue, to any holder of any temporary state permit, a state permit to carry a pistol or revolver within the state. Upon issuance of the state permit, the commissioner shall make available to the permit holder a copy of the law regarding the permit holder’s responsibility to report the loss or theft of a firearm and the penalties associated with the failure to comply with such law. Upon issuance of the state permit, the commissioner shall forward a record of such permit to the local authority issuing the temporary state permit. The commissioner shall retain records of all applications, whether approved or denied. The copy of the state permit delivered to the permittee shall be laminated and shall contain a full-face photograph of such permittee. A person holding a state permit issued pursuant to this subsection shall notify the issuing authority within two business days of any change of such person’s address. The notification shall include the old address and the new address of such person.
(c) No issuing authority may require any sworn member of the Department of Public Safety or an organized local police department to furnish such sworn member’s residence address in a permit application. The issuing authority shall allow each such sworn member who has a permit to carry a pistol or revolver issued by such authority, to revise such member’s application to include a business or post office address in lieu of the residence address. The issuing authority shall notify each such member of the right to revise such application.
(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 1-210 and 1-211, the name and address of a person issued a permit to sell at retail pistols and revolvers pursuant to subsection (a) of this section or a state or a temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, or a local permit to carry pistols and revolvers issued by local authorities prior to October 1, 2001, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed, except (1) such information may be disclosed to law enforcement officials acting in the performance of their duties, (2) the issuing authority may disclose such information to the extent necessary to comply with a request made pursuant to section 29-33 for verification that such state or temporary state permit is still valid and has not been suspended or revoked, and the local authority may disclose such information to the extent necessary to comply with a request made pursuant to section 29-33 for verification that a local permit is still valid and has not been suspended or revoked, and (3) such information may be disclosed to the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services to carry out the provisions of subsection (c) of section 17a-500.
(e) The issuance of any permit to carry a pistol or revolver does not thereby authorize the possession or carrying of a pistol or revolver in any premises where the possession or carrying of a pistol or revolver is otherwise prohibited by law or is prohibited by the person who owns or exercises control over such premises.
(f) Any bona fide resident of the United States having no bona fide residence or place of business within the jurisdiction of any local authority in the state, but who has a permit or license to carry a pistol or revolver issued by the authority of another state or subdivision of the United States, may apply directly to the Commissioner of Public Safety for a permit to carry a pistol or revolver in this state. All provisions of subsections (b), (c), (d) and (e) of this section shall apply to applications for a permit received by the commissioner under this subsection.
The Post & Email then contacted New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman‘s office by telephone and by email:
From: Sharon Rondeau
Sent: Fri 1/18/13 1:35 PM
Hello, I operate an electronic newspaper in Connecticut and have been covering the issue of the release of legal pistol owners’ names and addresses.
While the law currently permits the release of such information in New York, Connecticut law maintains the privacy of its pistol permit holders. In its December 23 publication, the Journal News of Westchester County released the names and addresses of pistol permit holders, including those residing in Connecticut, on an interactive map here: http://www.lohud.com/interactive/article/20121223/NEWS01/121221011/Map-Where-gun-permits-your-neighborhood-?nclick_check=1
Did the newspaper break Connecticut law, or was it within its rights to publish that information? Which law would prevail in this case: Connecticut’s or New York’s?
I have just left a voice message with your Freedom of Information division on this matter.
Thank you very much.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
Update, January 19, 2013, 8:30 a.m. EST: On Tuesday, the New York State General Assembly passed, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed, a bill which bans assault weapons in New York and limits magazine clips to seven rounds. Included in the legislation is a provision for permit holders to request privacy of their personal information and a 120-day moratorium on publication of any legal permit holders.
Also as of Saturday, the Journal News removed the interactive map of pistol permit holders, replacing it with a non-interactive map with dots to represent pistol permit holders. An open letter from the publisher states that the removal of the information “is not a concession” to those who objected to its publication.
The privacy provision is not commonly cited in mainstream coverage of the new law. Other provisions include that anyone found with a gun on school property will face a felony rather than a misdemeanor charge and the tracking of all ammunition purchases.
In light of the new law, the state of Texas has issued an invitation to lawful New York gun owners to move there to enjoy “lower taxes and greater opportunities.”