Updated 02/28/2013 06:03 PM
Oneida County changes position, urges opt-out for gun owners
After the SAFE Act passed, Oneida County made plans to block all Freedom of Information requests on pistol permit holders. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us why the county's pistol permit office is worried that may not be enough to protect privacy and what they're doing about it.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
UTICA, N.Y. -- Oneida County Assistant Pistol License Officer Dan Sullivan has been pretty tied up since the SAFE Act passed earlier this year.
"A lot of people concerned about the ability to get guns, a lot of people concerned about the ability to get ammunition and there's this opt-out form now," Sullivan said.
Under the law, gun owners have to opt-out if they don't want their information released on a Freedom of Information request.
"I've got a top drawer over there with probably about 300 to 400 forms received since Monday," said Sullivan.
Initially, the office tried to avoid that part of the law.
"I think most people did not anticipate that their names and addresses could be included in some web site or placed in some newspaper," Pistol License Officer Judge Michael Dwyer said.
"So Judge Dwyer and I basically blanketed the county and said we're not going to release public records," Sullivan explained.
Judge Michael Dwyer says they did it out of concern for public safety, but their concern now is a lawsuit.
"Whenever a higher court makes a ruling on this issue, then all the counties will have to comply with that judicial order," said Dwyer.
So County Executive Anthony Picente said Thursday he doesn't want people counting on the blanket option.
"It's really a protection, an added protection by encouraging all of those gun owners to file the opt-out form," Picente said.
Dwyer explained, "They can do something simply and quickly to protect themselves from having their names or addresses out there on some website."
There are several options on the form for why a person might want to opt-out and for now, officials are saying any one of them might do.
"Now if the courts, later on, decide that there needs to be a better reason, or more explanation given, then we can react to that," said Dwyer.
The Oneida County Pistol Permit License office has the form available at the county office building, as well as on their website.
To add to the complications from the law, the county only has one full-time staffer to file possibly 25,000 forms by May 1st, so it might be best to get it in early.