Victory for Transparency and Open Government: State Police Ordered to Release Secret “Assault Weapon” Registry Numbers

New York Supreme Court Rules Cuomo Administration Failed to Comply with Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Request

SCOPEThe Shooters Committee on Public Education (“SCOPE”) announced today the decision in the case of Robinson vs. Cuomo, signed by the Hon. Thomas J. McNamara of the New York Supreme Court, Albany County. The Court has directed the immediate release of statistical records from the New York State Division of State Police on the “assault weapons” registry.

“This Judgment of the Court requires the NYS Police to release statistical information about the so-called assault weapons registry, which they have tried to keep secret,” says Stephen J. Aldstadt, President of the Shooters Committee on Political Education (“SCOPE”). “The Court order in Robinson vs. Cuomo represents a major victory for transparency for the people of New York.”

The case was filed in October 2014 to pursue records originally requested in January 2014. The Court’s decision was issued on April 30, 2015.

The case of Robinson vs. Cuomo was filed to compel the production of records relating to the so-called “assault weapons registry.” There is no such thing as an “assault weapon.” The three primary categories of firearms as a matter of industry practice and of federal firearms compliance law are the rifle, the shotgun, and the handgun.

The term “assault weapon” is only a construct of law and is only found in the laws of New York and a handful of other states. The deadline for registration of a firearm that met the configuration details of Penal Law §265.00(22) was April 15, 2014.

As was argued in the case, the Cuomo Administration has refused to provide any non-identifying, statistical information about the registry ever since, in spite of calls for the same from across the political spectrum, from Bill Robinson (host of the “Second Amendment Radio Show”) to the NYS Committee on Open Government to NYPIRG and the League of Women Voters of New York State.

Among the records that must now immediately be provided to Robinson, who is also a member of SCOPE, are:

  • the number of “assault weapons” registered with the NYS Police on or after January 15, 2013;
  • the total number of individuals who submitted applications to register “assault weapons” on or after January 15, 2013; and,
  • a breakdown of statistical information relating to registrations by county, zip code, or other geographic identifier

Altogether, 15 categories of records must be immediately released by the NYS Police to Robinson.

In the words of Robinson’s Attorney, Paloma A. Capanna, “We won. The ruling is clear and unequivocal. The effect of the ruling is immediate. Any failure to comply with the ruling can – and will – be met with an application for civil contempt against the NYS Police.”

Assemblyman David DiPietro (R, C-East Aurora) said, “The Cuomo Administration has the worst record for transparency in modern New York political history. Everything is a secret to the Governor, and he fights tooth and nail to keep the public from knowing what’s going on. Maybe with this great victory in court, we will finally have an open window to see whether this registry is yet another maneuver by the Cuomo Administration for personal gain with no public benefit.”

Assemblyman Bill Nojay (R, C-Pittsford) said, “The SAFE Act never had anything to do with preventing crime or tragedy, which is why Andrew Cuomo is now refusing to provide any meaningful information about its enforcement. It was a staged theatric, which will do nothing more than snag otherwise law-abiding New York citizens in a nightmare of compliance problems. Let us now see whether the Governor, himself, complies with a court order for the sharing of information with the public.”

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