Chris Jacobs Sez Opt Out! Want to Protect Your Privacy? The Erie County Clerk Wants Gun Owners to Opt-Out Now By Michael R. Caputo

The New York State Police finally gave Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs the much anticipated firearms privacy "opt-out" form. New York pistol permit holders who want to protect their information from being made public have limited time to file the privacy form.

"The opt-out is a simple one page form that allows you to choose one of four reasons you desire to keep your information private. Once the permit holder completes the form simply mail it or fax it into our office," said Jacobs. In a Friday afternoon press release, the Clerk all but instructed pistol permit holders to select reason number four, which states, "I have reason to believe that I may be subject to unwarranted harassment upon disclosure."

Sources in the Clerk's office told that the NY SAFE Act has quickly morphed into another expensive unfunded mandate. Because of the law, lines at the Clerk's office are out the door almost triple the number of local residents scramble to gain a pistol permit. Now, County Auto Bureaus will also be tasked with maintenance of this new law. Despite this remarkable increase in workload, the County Clerk receives no additional funding through the new law.

The Clerk's office will distribute opt-out forms Saturday, February 16th, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Erie County Auto Bureau in Northtown Plaza, 3095 Sheridan Drive in Amherst.

Pistol permit holders can also visit their Web page to print out a copy of the form, complete it and mail or fax it in to the Erie County Clerk. Starting Tuesday, February 19th, all County Auto Bureaus will have copies of the forms available as well as the Pistol Permit Office located at 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY 14202.

Completed forms are to be submitted to: Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs, c/o Pistol Permit Office, 92 Franklin Street Buffalo, NY 14202.

Completed forms may also be faxed to716/858-6550, ATN: Pistol Permit Office.

The new gun control law provides 60-days for permit holders to exercise this opt-out provision before someone can make a request for pistol records. "So we are encouraging pistol permit holders who want assurance that their records will be kept private to complete the form immediately," said Jacobs.

Soon after the massacre at Sandy Hook, a Westchester newspaper featured an interactive Web map of the names and addresses of area gun owners. Days later, the Buffalo News contacted Jacobs with a Freedom of Information request for pistol permit holders data, intimating that they planned to do the same. The Clerk denied the News' request until the 60-day opt out period expires. While he has pledged to exhaust every legal means to block the News from accessing the data thereafter, the powerful newspaper will likely prevail.

For a complete listing of your closest Erie County Auto Bureau visit the Clerk's Web site.

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