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Gun owners plan to opt out of FOIL requests

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Albany/HV: Gun owners plan to opt out of FOIL requests
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State Police will release forms on Friday allowing pistol permit holders to keep their names and addresses from being made public. YNN's John Wagner spoke with gun owners ready to opt out.

DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- Skeet shooters at Crum Elbow Sportsmen's Association already feel targeted by Governor Andrew Cuomo. And now they'd just like to stay outside of criminals' bulls eyes.

Sparked by outrage after a Westchester newspaper published a map of all its county's hand gun owners, one part of the SAFE act about to go public allows pistol owners to keep their info private.

"They don't want to have their name and address and their location known to the whole world at large," said Clyde Heermance, President of the Crum Elbow Sportsmen's Association in Hyde Park.

Local gun owners say they plan to obey the new gun laws, but when hunting for specifics, even from law enforcement, they often find confusion instead.

"All kinds of ambiguity, lack of knowledge, total ignorance," said Bill Lenehan, a member of Crum Elbow's association and three other sporting groups. "State Police said they had no information to give me. They didn't have definitive answers."

Lenehan contacted a number of local police agencies and lawmakers who voted on the bill, but got little help.

"It was really done in the dark of night," said President Heermance, explaining why he thinks there's little understanding, even amongst state lawmakers. "It didn't go through the three day waiting period, it seems they've broken every rule yet they want us to obey."

But opting out is very clear. Starting Friday, forms will be available at sheriff and clerk's offices, that must be signed off on by a judge. The State Clerk's Association, however, says the cost is not clear and considers it another large unfunded mandate.

"New York State could solve this by affording the same protections to pistol owners as they do to drivers," said Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall. "If they simply did that, we would need none of this additional burden."

Dutchess County has more than 38,000 pistol permit holders and with most expected to opt out their information, that creates an unwanted deluge of paperwork for the county to process.

"We're going to have to redesign our document management system to be able to individually seal records, which we can't currently do," said Kendall. "It's going to be time on the courts, which are already overloaded."

Gun owners also agree they shouldn't have to opt out. At the end of the day, regardless of paperwork, they say few will remain public.

"I think they'll get close to 100 percent," said Heermance. "I think you'd be foolish not to. Why would you advertise? Why not put a sign up that says no weapons here, come in and do what you please?"

Dutchess County permit holders can find the form at www.co.dutchess.ny.us.

Frequently asked questions about the NYSAFE act can be found at www.governor.ny.gov.

Crum Elbow Sportsmen plan to rally at the state Capitol against the new gun laws on February 28th. Find out more at www.crumelbowsportsmen.com.

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