New York SAFE ACT Is a Cluster-You-Know-What

 Thousands of opt out of FOIA forms for New York gun owners (courtesy

There are lots of good reasons why the United States Constitution directs that Americans’ right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Here’s another one: the government sucks at governing. Even “common sense” gun laws designed with the best of intentions delay or deny the right to keep and bear arms when administered by the bureaucratic bloat that is our public service sector. To wit: a provision of New York’s ironically-named SAFE Act “allows” pistol permit holders to opt out of Freedom of Information Act requests for personal information. To do so, gun owners have to submit a form by May 15 listing their reason for seeking privacy. You can guess what happens next. If not, read this from and weep . . .

County clerks say the forms’ popularity has office staff working overtime and clerks pulling workers from different divisions to help organize the information. Some clerks said they have started sending the forms to county judges for approval to stay ahead of the process.

“Right now we are absolutely overwhelmed, we have lines out the door and our staff are stressed to the max,” Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo said. “We are treading water and doing what needs to be done to get through the day.” . . .

Dinolfo said about 1,000 of the county’s forms came from new pistol-permit applicants because the law also has spurred a surge in people buying guns. Monroe County, home to the state’s third largest city in Rochester, has about 45,000 pistol-permit holders.

As my old high school friend used to say, my hearts pumps piss for them. They are both the product and the perpetrators of laws that are fundamentally flawed. Never mind the “opt out” info bit of New York’s permitting process, there shouldn’t be a permitting process in the first place.

This is what happens when a free people surrender their freedom to a government that’s supposed to protect it: they lose their rights by degrees. And the more hurdles government places on people attempting to exercise their rights, the more likely they are to fail to clear them. Or have someone in authority block their progress.

In most counties, county judges approve or deny the opt-out requests. Then the forms are sent back to clerk’s offices where pistol permit holders’ status is updated and logged as private.

The opt-out form allows a number of reasons a gun owner can seek to have information kept private. Among them: being a law-enforcement official or a victim of domestic violence, having a safety fear after grand jury service, or being concerned about harassment . . .

Not all county judges are giving automatic approvals. Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato said his county judge sent back forms that lacked information or failed to provide a legitimate concern for sealing the records. Piperato plans to return the forms to residents so they can resubmit them . . .

“The law is very unclear and never told those who do the work how this process should be completed,” Cortland County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin said. “County by county they are trying to figure out how to comply with the law with no resources and no written regulations.”

This is just a warm-up folks. As of April 15th, 2013, Empire State owners of [newly defined] assault rifles have one year to transfer their weapon to an out-of-state owner or register their rifles with the State Police. Violators face jail time, fines and confiscation.

County clerks said they are bracing next for registration of assault weapons, set to begin April 15 when state police make forms available online.

“It is an unfunded mandate, and it was dumped on us,” Larkin said. “It should have never happened on the state level with no thought of the consequences to local county offices.”

If you think about it, it would be worse if the government administered this gun registration scheme efficiently. But mark my words: mistakes will be made—in administration and enforcement—-and bloodshed will result. And people will learn, again, still, the government is not your friend.