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NYC-based Web site seeking database of Genesee County pistol permit holders

New York City-based Heavy.com, which bills itself as an entertainment Web site for men, apparently has developed an interest in who owns handguns in Genesee County.

Aaron Nobel, editor of Heavy.com, sent a request to Sheriff Gary Maha under New York's Freedom of Information Law on Jan. 25 asking for a database of all handgun permit holders in Genesee County.

Maha denied the request in Feb. 4 letter citing the SAFE Act, which placed a 120-day freeze on disclosure of handgun license information.

The moratorium is intended to give pistol permit holders an opportunity to file paperwork opting out of release of their permit information. The County Clerk's office has been besieged by gun owners seeking to block release of the information.

Nobel did not respond to e-mails from The Batavian with questions about the nature and reason for his publication's request.

The Batavian obtained Nobel's letter and Maha's response through its own FOIL request to the Sheriff's Office.

County Clerk Don Read informed members of the Genesee County Legislature on Tuesday of Heavy.com's request.

Read's office would be the proper agency to file a FOIL request for such data, and Read said once the 120-day moratorium expires, he can still withhold the information under FOIL exemptions for "an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" and "if disclosed could endanger the life or safety of any person."

If Read does oppose the release, he said he would expect the matter to be taken to court. Among the questions we asked Nobel that went unanswered is whether Heavy.com would pursue court action to try and force disclosure of the data.

Pistol permits should not be public record, Read told legislators.

"I don’t see why these people should be singled out any more than, say, give me a list of all the motor vehicle owned who have SUVs," Read said. "Motor vehicle records are considered confidential. We can’t give you any information on the number of vehicles registered in New York State or the names and addresses of motor vehicle registrants. I don't see why (gun owners) should be singled out."

Since Nobel did not respond to The Batavian, we don't know if he made the same request of other counties in the state.

While the SAFE Act was a knee-jerk reaction from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the opt-out provision of the law was drafted in response to a newspaper in Westchester County publishing an online map of pistol permit holders. The newspaper eventually succumbed to public pressure and removed the map from its site.

In his request, Nobel said, "I represent a news and information Web site that is seeking this information for news-gathering purposes" and said that release of the information was "in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public's understanding of the prevalence and location of gun ownership within their communities."

Brenda Gill
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Checked out the website ... I've been under the impression that sites like that were just a vehicle for advertisements. My guess is that this Nobel is on a state wide fishing expedition.

Christopher Putnam
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opt out is a joke..... how about you make it opt-in? who in their right mind would choose to have their private info made public. so let me get this straight, i have to take extra action to secure info that should be private to begin with. thanks for the slap in the face and the spit in my eye emperor governor sir.

John Woodworth JR
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Chris I agree with your comment. It should be the other way and Noble has proven one thing. This is for unwarranted harassment and I think this should be another class action lawsuit against (as Chris stated) Emperor Governor Sir, aka Cuomo. How about giving gun owners the names and addresses of all anti-gun protesters. To help ensure our safety from unwant harassment and possible crimes against our family and property. Mr Noble (definitely not his name sake) can I have you home address (where you reside)? Privacy is the right of every American Citizen and THANK YOU, MR Read for pointing out the privacy vehicle owners have. Yes vehicles and guns are not the same but, here is something to think about. How many incidents have you heard about people using their vehicle to kill people in the past few years? Quite a few and as one Cali hero stated, "Smash, smash and ssssssmaaaasssshhhh!"

BTW, for you gun owners out there. Do yourself and me a favor. Do not give the women at the County Clerk's Office a hard time over this form. They are not the ones behind it. It takes two seconds to complete and at least it does not cost anything. Such behavior is unwarranted towards those ladies, not to mention extremely rude.

John Woodworth JR
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Go on youtube and look up "Kai Hatchet" and make sure it is the 5m and 32s video

Dave Olsen
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Of course if there weren't any handgun permits issued in the first place, there wouldn't be a list at all, anywhere. How about, Everyone, including the county and state get out of everyone else's business.

Doug Yeomans
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Couldn't agree more, Dave. No need for a permit system except for the money grab. The only thing I would like to see is a firearms handling course for pistols and long guns. We train and test for driving and hunting, so training for firearm safety shouldn't be too much to ask for. Once that is done, a NICS check should be enough. You either pass the background check or you don't.

Dave Olsen
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Sounds fair to me Doug.

John Woodworth JR
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I agree with you but, as long as New York is in financial crisis and they can make money, it will never happen.

Frank Bartholomew
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So John, You don't like the infringement on your rights as a gun owner, but you favor stepping on anothers right to be anti gun, what the hell are you saying???

John Woodworth JR
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Hello Frank, No, I do not believe we have the right to infringe on anyone's rights. I was merely saying if it is good for one side, then it should go all ways. So, someone wants to know my personal info, then I should have the right to know theirs. It should not be something the government should pick and choose as they see fit. Sorry I did not make that clearer for you.

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