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Pro-Gun Group Wins Transparency Victory in New York

A semi-automatic assault rifle made by Bushmaster Firearms International LLC, third from bottom, is displayed for sale at the Rocky Mountain Gun Show in Sandy, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. A working group led by Vice President Joe Biden is seriously considering measures that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pro-gun group won a stinging transparency victory over the state of New York after a court ruled that aggregate data on the number of so-called assault rifles must be made public.

New York’s sweeping gun control law, known as the SAFE Act, requires all semiautomatic weapons be registered with the state, but the names of the registrants cannot be made public.

Since that time, pro-gun groups, gun-control groups and media organizations alike have sought aggregate data on the number of guns registered with the state, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The April 30 ruling by state Supreme Court Judge Thomas McNamara in Albany — disclosed Thursday by the Shooters Committee on Public Education, a pro-gun group — determined that the state could not shield the information from the public under New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

"The exemption asserted by the agency does not apply to the records sought by the petitioner and as that is the only basis offered by the agency for denying access, the records should be provided," McNamara wrote.

The organization brought the lawsuit on behalf of Penfield, New York, resident Bill Robinson.

"This is an important juncture really for all of us in a government administration here in Albany that has been operating behind a veil of secrecy not only for the information we sought, but in other areas," Paloma Capanna, a Rochester-area lawyer who represented the Shooters Committee on Public Education, told the Democrat and Chronicle.

The New York State Police had rejected the records request from individuals and groups in the past, claiming it is exempt under the SAFE Act.

In a statement, the police force said it was"reviewing the court's decision and working to determine the next steps."

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