Gun Permit Information Should be Available, Man Says
One man was denied information on gun permits because of state statute.
To the Editor:
For decades now, from time to time, someone with a firearm seems to step out of the crowd and begins shooting down innocent people for no apparent reason—not that any reason would ever justify an act of carnage the likes of which we have come to be witness to as of late.
It always seems to me that society is always better at looking back at these incidents rather than looking forward at them, analyzing what has happened rather than heading them off.
And for all the efforts we do make in deconstructing these sort of events to try to know what might have been going through the minds of these very bad actors, and what set them off, one thing remains a constant factor—firearms.
When it comes to building in Bridgewater, owners of property file for building permits and they are reviewed and, in many cases, neighbors adjacent to such sites are advised as to the impact that certain projects have on the surrounding community. Owners are compelled to come before the boards and council to have those plans and designs approved.
But when it comes to gun safety, government issues permits for ownership here in New Jersey in secret. And as they do, you and me are not advised that there is a large caliber firearm within its effective range of where we reside.
A few weeks ago I submitted an Open Public Record Request for access to the number of firearms permits issued by the township and that request resulted in:
"your request is denied in whole based on the below:
New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety’s regulations at N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.15, which provides that:
“Any background investigation conducted by the chief of police … of any applicant for a permit, firearms identification card license, or
registration … is not a public record and shall not be disclosed to any person not authorized by law or this chapter to have access to such
investigation, including the applicant … [A]ny document reflecting the issuance or denial of such permit, firearms identification card, or license … maintained by any … municipal governmental agency, is not a public record and shall not be disclosed to any person not authorized by law or this chapter to have access to such documentation, including the applicant …” (Emphasis added.) Id."
While the response was not entirely unexpected, I was surprised that the state's position is that somehow a permit that requires government approval is not a public record.
In other communities where this sort of information is deemed public information, one township took exception to releasing the information, citing the safety of law enforcement, first responders and veterans over the peoples' right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
It is my position that We The People have a right to know if there is a firearm and permit applied for and granted within reasonable distance to where we live, capable of firing a projectile that if pointed our way could in fact penetrate the very walls behind which we live, and that while I do honor and respect the safety of those whom we entrust our protection, it is my protection and that of my family and neighbors that is non-negotiable.