FOIA Expert Says New NY Gun Law Won't Actually Keep The Press Away From Public Records


As part of a sweeping overhaul of the state's gun laws, New York legislators amended state public records laws to protect gun owners from being publicly identified.

After The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y. used the Freedom of Information Act to publish a map revealing the names and addresses of registered gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties, some politicians apparently decided it was time for change.

While gun owners might be celebrating their newfound privacy, Bob Freeman, the executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, says they shouldn't get too excited yet.


"In my opinion the need for that information is so significant that it will never be taken away," Freeman told Business Insider of the new law. "There will always be elements of personal information that will be public."

Freeman likened the new restrictions to the same privacy rights government workers think they enjoy.

There are provisions that say public officers' names and addresses don't have to be disclosed in public information requests. However, that same information is readily available if the government employee is registered to vote or owns property.


Plus, with the advent of the Internet, there are so many other ways to collect information that very few records are actually private.

"It's 2013, this is the way it is and the way it's going to be," Freeman said, adding that this newest law won't place any "dramatic" restriction on access to public records laws.

You might not be able to explicitly find out who owns a gun in New York State anymore, but there are still a ton of personal details about every resident that are readily available.


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