Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs does some of his best work on Sundays. Or so it would seem, since his 9:00 morning email today announced another vital step to protect the privacy of local gun owners.
In the wake of the Westchester Journal News' debacle - where the downstate newspaper published the names of all local gun owners, was vilified, then turned tail and pulled their story down from the Web - lawmakers have moved to block more media organizations from similarly violating New Yorkers' privacy.
According to the new New York State gun law, the State Police must soon produce a form registered gun owners can complete and submit to assure their name and address are never released to the media (or anyone else). With that form still two weeks away, Jacobs has posted a Web link to assure his constituents get the form right away.
Erie County gun owners: click here to keep your personal information away from the media.
Jacobs says he is doing this to give the permit holders sufficient time to complete the form and submit it, and also give his office time to seal the records of those permit holders who opt-out of the public disclosure requirement.
In fact, The Buffalo News recently filed a Freedom of Information request with Jacobs' office in an attempt to do a local version of the Journal News' story. Jacobs immediately refused to give the information to the News until Cuomo's gun control law was enacted. County Legislator Joe Lorigo then moved a bill to protect gun owner privacy from media sensationalism. (Later, Jacobs told an audience in Elma that he would take every legal measure necessary to avoid ever giving the list to the Buffalo News.)
Pistol permit holders have 60 days after the forms are made available to submit completed forms to the Clerk's Office. Permit holders can access the on-line request by going to www.erie.gov/optout to enter their e-mail address. Once the Clerk receives the "opt-out" form from the New York State Police, his office will immediately send out an electronic version to those who subscribed. After the permit holder has completed the form in its entirety, it can be mailed to: Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs, c/o Pistol Permit Office, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY 14202.
PoliticsNY.net has pledged to post the names and home addresses of all news personnel of The Buffalo News if the newspaper attains the list of gun owners and uses the information to publish even one name and address of a local gun owner.