Legislation prohibiting the public release of the names and addresses of residents with gun permits was released from the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee today. Currently, access to such personal information is prohibited by regulation, but could be obtained under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Law. If enacted, Rible and Dancer’s bill, A-3788, would prohibit such access.
“Releasing personal information about those who have firearms permits or licenses puts law enforcement officers and law-abiding citizens in harm’s way,” said Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean, who is a retired police officer. “This legislation will codify that obtaining such information is restricted to those in law enforcement or the courts. Currently, access to permit-holder information is restricted by regulation which can be changed without legislative approval. This bill is an important step in safeguarding a person’s right to privacy and protecting them from potential predators.”
“This legislation has nothing to do with gun control, but with protecting law-abiding citizens and ensuring their safety,” said Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth. “It is quite possible that citizens can be targeted by thieves, as could victims of domestic violence who possess a firearm to defend themselves. This bill will legally remove the ambiguity in the current regulation and respect that releasing such information must have a legitimate purpose.”
In the aftermath of December’s tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a Rockland County newspaper published a story that included a map listing the names and addresses of people who have pistol permits. The information was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Rible and Dancer pointed out that the map and personal information included in the newspaper’s article put law enforcement officers and other permit-holders potentially at risk. A week after the story ran, the Rockland County sheriff held a news conference to discuss how inmates were approaching law enforcement officers telling them they knew where they lived.