Privacy of owning weapons debated

MAYVILLE – Does media have the right to know who has registered weapons?

That was the main topic of discussion during Wednesday’s Public Safety committee meeting.

On the agenda was a motion by Legislative Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville, calling on the New York State Legislature to enact, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign into law, legislation to protect the privacy of pistol license and concealed carry permit holders.

The motion cited The Journal News, a newspaper based in Westchester County, which printed a map of names and addresses of pistol permit holders. The newspaper obtained the information through Freedom of Information Law filings. However, not all legislators at the meeting were supportive of the motion.

“This is not a vote against guns,” said Bill Coughlin, D-Fredonia. “This is a vote about the constitutionality of the motion.”

Coughlin offered anyone present at the meeting $1,000 to point out where in the constitution it says people have a right to privacy.

“This motion is calling for asserting a right of privacy that does not exist against a paper for publishing the names. You have no right of privacy against the paper,” Coughlin said.

“What you are doing is you are infringing upon the press’ freedom of the press of your First Amendment right.”

Gould, however, argued that people do have a right to privacy when it comes to their weapons.

“If I knew that my right to a pistol permit was going to be publicized, I would probably have a couple of illegal pistols right now, rather than license them. I didn’t figure that when I licensed them, it was going to be spread all over the newspaper that Jay Gould has two pistols. Now they all know,” he said. “I feel that’s personal, people’s business.”

The motion was not voted on at the meeting. It will be discussed at the full legislature meeting April 24 at 6:45 p.m. It will need 17 votes to be passed.

Also at the meeting, legislators passed a resolution confirming the appointment of Lyle Holland of Westfield to the Chautauqua County Fire Advisory Board.