Tuesday, February 28, 2006

US judge strikes down Pennsylvania requirement for SSN for gun license

Thanks to a reader who passed this along ...

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Associated Press, a US Federal judge has struck down Pennsylvania's requirement that prospective firearm purchasers provide their social security numbers. The PA law was found to violate the US federal Privacy Act. Here's the gist:

Philadelphia Inquirer 02/28/2006 Judge rejects Pa. gun-buying terms

...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....

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