Second Amendment Advocates Expect to Uncover Corruption, Nepotism, and Unlawful Inconsistencies in Rockland County, N.Y. Pistol Permitting Practices

March 2, 2020 – NEW CITY, N.Y. – 2ANYS, New York State’s premier civilian rearmament enterprise securing maximal Second Amendment civil rights by, with, and through The People, issued a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the Office of the Rockland County, N.Y. Clerk on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Under the New York Freedom of Information Law, N.Y. Pub. Off. Law Article 6, et seq., the request seeks a range of public records relating to the county’s pistol permitting practices. More specifically, 2ANYS is seeking copies of public records regarding:

  • Any and all applications, letters, submissions, and other documents or records submitted to Rockland County to convert a pistol permit issued for the purposes of “Sportsman/Residence” to a conceal and carry pistol permit.
  • Any and all applications, letters, submissions, and other documents or records submitted to Rockland County to lift restrictions for a pistol permit issued for the purposes of “Sportsman/Residence.”
  • Any and all records, logs, or other documents that provide the number of formal or informal applications submitted to Rockland County to convert a “Sportsman/Residence” pistol permit to a conceal and carry pistol permit, or to lift restrictions on an individual’s “Sportsman/Residence” pistol permit.
  • Any and all records, logs, or other documents that provide the outcome of formal or informal applications submitted to Rockland County to convert a “Sportsman/Residence” pistol permit to a conceal and carry pistol permit or to lift restrictions on an individual’s “Sportsman/Residence” pistol permit.
  • Any and all documents and records that provide the reasons for denying any formal or informal application submitted to Rockland County to convert a “Sportsman/Residence” pistol permit to a conceal and carry pistol permit or to lift restrictions on an individual’s “Sportsman/Residence” pistol permit.

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“We’re aware of numerous instances in which restricted pistol permits have been upgraded to unrestricted concealed carry permits solely because the permit holder has a personal, familial, and/or political relationship with a Rockland County judge, has already or has the capacity to directly or indirectly benefit a Rockland County judge financially and/or politically, and/or has connections to a third party that already has or holds the capacity to accomplish the corrupt and nepotistic actions I just described,” 2ANYS Rockland County Chapter Founder Erik Melanson said. “We’re also aware of numerous instances in which Rockland County judges themselves have been illegally carrying concealed firearms inside the Rockland County Courthouse, in direct contravention of statutes uselessly designating the court building a ‘gun free zone’ inside which only duly licensed court law enforcement officers are permitted to carry firearms. These longstanding unofficial policies of political and personal favoritism I’ve described are blatantly unconstitutional and thus illegal. They also place the lives of government agents far above those of the citizens they’re supposed to serve, which flies in the face of this nation’s values as a constitutional republic. I anticipate the FOIL request we recently filed will bring the abuses I’ve outlined to the light of day, and clearly and forcefully build an ironclad legal case for reversal of the unconstitutional New York State pistol permitting regime. The tempo of our legal operations against the county and state will only increase from here.”

“As my colleague, Erik Melanson, has clearly outlined, the unconstitutional New York State pistol permitting regime has created unlawful loopholes that Rockland County judges have used to transform the fundamental right to self-defense into a rewards system to benefit their personal, political, and familial benefactors,” 2ANYS Rockland County Chapter Founder Tzvi Waldman said. This disgraceful practice of denying the individual right to keep and bear arms degrades and demoralizes community members willing and ready to protect their neighbors and loved ones all across Rockland County. These community members, including currently deployed U.S. soldiers, state certified armed guards, and law abiding citizens who have dedicated countless hours to training to achieve a high level of proficiency, have universally been denied the ability to carry a concealed firearm by Rockland County judges. It is highly unlikely that the friends, colleagues, and family members of Rockland County judges are better qualified to carry a concealed firearm than these people attempting to protect their communities from violent attacks, which have recently been on the rise. I expect our FOIL request will expose the ongoing unconstitutional injustices in Rockland County via application of New York State’s unconstitutional pistol permit regime, and reverse the system in total.”

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“I believe the result of our FOIL request recently issued to the Office of the Rockland County Clerk will clearly demonstrate what the people of Rockland County and, frankly, New Yorkers residing in all counties of the state, have known for decades – that the unconstitutional state pistol permitting regime allows for massive corruption, nepotism, and unlawful inconsistencies,” 2ANYS Founder Steve Felano said. “This, among numerous additional unlawful and discriminatory qualities, is precisely why the permitting regime must be pulverized in the courts and consigned to the dustbin of history, and this is exactly what we intend to accomplish. A review of the denial letter being issued to concealed carry permit applicants by Rockland County judges illustrates the numerous flaws inherent in the pistol permitting regime. These denial communications are clearly form letters demonstrating no actual review of each applicant’s persuasive argument for a concealed carry permit, complete resistance to and defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago decisions, and total reliance on an unconstitutional rational basis legal standard masquerading as an intermediate scrutiny standard, which was deemed unlawful and improper in the context of Second Amendment cases via the aforementioned Heller decision. I’d like to close by making Rockland County pistol permit holders aware that we will not be releasing any personal information associated with their concealed carry applications as a result of our FOIL request. We simply wish to understand precisely how and why Rockland County government agents are unconstitutionally denying the residents they’re supposed to serve their fundamental right to keep and bear arms. Finally, I’d like to make Rockland County judges aware that any retribution visited upon residents for participating in our lawsuit will be interpreted as clear and unambiguous First Amendment retaliation, and that our legal response to such an abuse will be unrelenting and unmerciful.”

The New York Freedom of Information Law requires that Rockland County respond to 2ANYS within five business days. If access to the pistol permit records that have been requested will take longer than this amount of time, Rockland County must provide information regarding when 2ANYS might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records. If Rockland County denies any portion of the FOIL request made by 2ANYS, county officials must cite each specific exemption they feel justifies the refusal to release pistol permit information.

The county must notify 2ANYS of the appeal procedures available to them pursuant to section 89(4) of the N.Y. Public Officers Law. 2ANYS has requested that if, for any reason, the county denies their FOIL request or withholds certain information, that county officials provide a list of the denied or withheld materials, justify these deletions and withholdings by referencing specific exemption(s) in the FOIL, and release all parts of the withheld material that are not exempt and can be released under the FOIL.

2ANYS has advised Rockland County that they intend to appeal any denial of records release, and seek attorneys’ fees should an appeal pursuant to Article 78 of the N.Y. Civil Practice Law and Rules be necessary. Presently, over 200 potential plaintiffs have expressed interest in joining the 2ANYS lawsuit against the pistol permit regime, with new potential plaintiffs entering their information for consideration every day at 2ANYS.COM.

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For more than a decade, Rockland County’s pistol permitting judges have ignored the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic District of Columbia v. Heller decision. This decision held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms disconnected from service in a militia. It also articulated two restrictions, and two restrictions only, on firearms possession and carriage. These include felony conviction and/or civil commitment under mental health law.

Through a calculated conspiracy against citizens’ Second Amendment civil rights, Rockland County judges have forced an imaginary ‘may issue’ concealed carry permitting scheme on the residents they’re supposed the serve. This scheme mandates that citizens treat the county like an overbearing parent, writing a ‘mother may I’ letter to county judges, asking for permission to exercise a civil right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to all who don’t fall into the restricted classes articulated by the District of Columbia v. Heller decision.

In the current era of significantly rising anti-Semitic violence and New York State’s fumbled bail reform rollout, Rockland County’s pistol permitting scheme places all residents at risk of severe bodily harm and death. A new, politically motivated state domestic terrorism law and stepped up police patrols contrived for media consumption will not keep Rockland County residents safe. The Second Amendment will, and it’s time for county and state government agents to accept this obvious fact of life.

In Rockland County, judges ignore federal law and simply hold that ALL citizens should be denied the right to keep and bear arms outside the home for any reason, or for no reason at all. This permitting scheme, devoid of constitutional justification and completely conjured out of thin air by rogue county judges, is clearly unconstitutional and must be reversed. The 2ANYS Rockland County Chapter will be suing government agents to reverse their unlawful pistol permitting scheme and free county residents’ Second Amendment civil rights from an artificial prison built by authoritarian bureaucrats.

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We are the 2ANYS Rockland County Chapter. 2ANYS is New York State’s premier civilian rearmament enterprise securing maximal Second Amendment civil rights by, with, and through The People. At the tip of the spear in the fight against progressive gun control, our innovative strategies expand non-compliance with, and non-enforcement and repeal of, Albany’s imperial disarmament edicts. 2ANYS promotes a strong martial culture across New York State through firearms proficiency development, combat tactics training, and firearms industry events. We actively educate the public on the immense successes delivered by America’s Second Amendment, and the deplorable suffering imposed by governments that forcefully disarm their citizens. By, with, and through The People, 2ANYS will defeat Albany’s unconstitutional civilian disarmament industrial complex, and pass that victory on to the next generation to defend as their own. Learn more at 2ANYS.COM/ROCKLAND.