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Judge rejects Pa. gun-buying terms

RugerNinerRugerNiner Member Posts: 12,636 ✭✭✭
edited March 2006 in General Discussion
Posted on Tue, Feb. 28, 2006

Judge rejects Pa. gun-buying terms Requiring prospective owners to provide their Social Security numbers violates the U.S. Privacy Act, the judge ruled.
Read the opinion.By John ShiffmanInquirer Staff Writer

Pennsylvania's requirement that buyers provide a Social Security number to purchase a gun or obtain a concealed-weapons permit was struck down yesterday by a federal judge.

The state law violated the federal Privacy Act, U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez ruled.

"This issue has been largely overlooked in Pennsylvania and other states for a long time," said lawyer J. Dwight Yoder, who brought the case on behalf of a retired U.S. Army officer from Lancaster. "This ruling is about privacy, not guns. We weren't looking to circumvent gun laws."

Lawyers for the Pennsylvania State Police are reviewing the decision and considering an appeal, spokesman Jack Lewis said. By requiring applicants to provide Social Security numbers, Lewis said, his agency "simply has followed the requirements of the state's Uniform Firearms Act."

The wider impact of yesterday's ruling - whether, for example, other Pennsylvania Social Security requirements would be deemed invalid - was uncertain.

One reason is that there are two large exceptions to the Privacy Act's protection of Social Security numbers. The act does not apply to state and local government programs specifically exempted by federal law, such as driver's license applications, or to programs from before 1974, such as voter registration.

Sanchez's ruling noted that the right of privacy as to Social Security numbers exists under a federal law, not as a right the U.S. Supreme Court had interpreted as protected by the Constitution.
Still, Robert Ellis Smith, publisher of the Privacy Journal in Providence, R.I., said yesterday's ruling was "significant because it comes at a time when most government agencies are requiring more and more information from people."

"The decision is part of a trend in the last 10 years as courts realize the importance of keeping Social Security numbers confidential because of identity theft," Smith said. Smith, who is also a lawyer and journalist, was a paid expert for Michael Stollenwerk, the retired Army officer who brought the case in federal court in Philadelphia.

Stollenwerk said yesterday he hoped the ruling would inspire others to challenge government demands for Social Security numbers. He also said he hoped it would encourage local and state officials to review application requirements.

"A lot of state governments have blown off this law," said Stollenwerk, now a law student at Georgetown University. "I think someone had to stand up to the government and say, 'I'm going to challenge this.' "Stollenwerk, 42, has pressed the matter on gun permits in other states, he said. In California, without going to court, he said, he was able to convince state authorities that their gun-purchase law violated the Privacy Act. In Virginia, he said, he was victorious in state court.

Stollenwerk began his Pennsylvania effort in June 2003, when he was still an Army lieutenant colonel based in the Washington suburbs.
On June 30, 2003, Stollenwerk tried to buy a Taurus revolver from US Prospectors Sporting Goods in Columbia, Lancaster County.

When the dealer asked for his Social Security number, Stollenwerk declined to provide it. The dealer called state police to try to complete the sale, but the state police refused to run Stollenwerk's name through its database, the Pennsylvania Instant Check System, without a Social Security number.

A few days later, Stollenwerk tried to apply for a concealed-gun permit from the Lancaster County sheriff. He supplied his passport, driver's license, voter-registration card, bank statements, and utility bills as identification. When he refused to disclose his Social Security number, Sheriff Terry A. Bergman denied him a license to carry a firearm.

Bergman referred calls yesterday to his attorney, David Karamessinis, who could not be reached for comment.

Keep your Powder dry and your Musket well oiled.
NRA Lifetime Benefactor Member.


  • n/an/a Member Posts: 168,427
    edited November -1
    Social Security number is optional here in Florida. If you do use it the instant check may go faster.[:0] I have used mine and I have left it off and I didnt see a difference in anything.[8D]
  • 11b6r11b6r Member Posts: 16,725
    edited November -1
    OK- everyone please take out your Social Security card, turn it over and read the letters that say NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION. Your ssan is for TAXES.
  • zipperzapzipperzap Member Posts: 25,057
    edited November -1
    Optional in CA, too.

    If you think SS numbers are not for ID you've got to be back in 1936,
    or nuts - or both.[:D][:D][:D]
  • RugerNinerRugerNiner Member Posts: 12,636 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Here in PA it's the law that give your SSN to get a Hunting and Fishing License. This is so they can track deadbeat dads. This also is under scrutiny and looks like it will be repealed.

    The reason behind his lawsuits is because of Identity Fraud and not Gun Control.

    I got this information from my Local Newspaper.

    Keep your Powder dry and your Musket well oiled.
    NRA Lifetime Benefactor Member.
  • bpostbpost Member Posts: 32,217 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by 11b6r
    OK- everyone please take out your Social Security card, turn it over and read the letters that say NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION. Your ssan is for TAXES.

    That is IF, and I mean IF, your Government follows the rules we imposed upon it.

    Come to think of it; you post is funny, in a very sad way.
  • salzosalzo Member Posts: 6,837
    edited November -1
    That is good news. I am offended that on my ccl permit it has my social security number on it.
    Does this ruling mean that we are no longer required to give our ss when getting a carry permit?? Mine is up for renewal.
  • Red223Red223 Member Posts: 7,946
    edited November -1
    Wow the case took long enough.

    Maybe by 2015 they will finally tell the PA State Police their firearm database is illegal.
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