State to spend $28M on gun permit data

ALBANY (AP) -- New York will spend $27.74 million to develop a statewide electronic handgun permit database as part of its new gun control law, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Tuesday.

Silver said the measure in the tentative state budget will create a central database of handgun permit records now kept at the county level. The new database will allow faster statewide cross-checking with records of crimes and involuntary commitments to mental health facilities.

The law also exempts records of individual handgun owners from the state Freedom of Information Law. That would avoid the conflict that arose when a newspaper reported the names of handgun permit holders and their addresses.

"This database will be a powerful tool that will aid in the enforcement of New York's gun control measures and keep more of our citizens out of harm's way," Silver said.

The database is a key element of the state gun control law adopted in January, a month after the Newtown, Conn., shooting. Another element of New York's law is a broader ban on military-style rifles often called assault weapons.

The law has met with strong opposition by mostly upstate Republicans who see the law as an assault on Second Amendment rights. However, most New Yorkers support stronger gun control measures, particularly residents of New York City and its suburbs.

The funding is in the tentative state budget expected to gain final legislative approval in the Assembly later this week.