Pennsylvanians and others might want to read the following, longish


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alan
December 26, 2005, 07:37 PM
SPECIAL REPORT

Weapons of Mass Dissemination - It's Time for PA Gun Owners to Take
ACTION Against Social Security Number Abuse

Privacy. What does this mean to each of us and what are the
consequences of the misuse of personal private information? The "Holy
Grail" of privacy in America is centered on the individual's "Social
Security Number" (SSN). With this you can gain access into virtually
every personal individual record each of us has accumulated over our
lifetimes. IF this number is so important then WHY does the government
allow public entities, and even their own, to insist on its' use for
purposes outside the scope of the law?

Lancaster County PA resident Mike Stollenwerk, a long time privacy
advocate, has for a number of years been asking this very question of
the State and Federal government and its agencies that are charged with
controlling the misuse of SSNs. In connection with this, Stollenwerk
has filed a Federal lawsuit under Section 1983 of the Federal Civil
Rights Act specifically focusing on the Pennsylvania State Police
Firearms Unit and its apparent violations of the Federal Privacy Act of
1974 by unlawfully requiring applicants to disclose Social Security
Numbers when they buy firearms or apply for a License to Carry Firearm
(LTCF). The Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act also requires that SSNs
so disclosed be recorded upon the face of the LTCF, entered into state
databases, and remain in dealer records.

Identity Theft:

Many law-enforcement authorities call identity theft "the fastest
growing crime across the country right now." In Identity-theft cases,
the victim often has to prove his or her innocence. This shocks most
new identity-theft victims. They naturally expect the police, the
credit grantors, the credit-reporting agencies and others in high
places to help them. Maybe it should be that way... but often it isn't.

As we all know, Social Security Numbers are demanded by many
governmental agencies such as PennDot, the PA Game Commission, and the
Pennsylvania State Police (for the Pennsylvania Instant Check
System-PICS) to mention the most relevant ones for this discussion.
What is not often discussed is how do these agencies secure/protect the
information and IF Identity thieves have ever stolen personal
information from them and, MOST importantly, is it even "legal" for
them to require it? In addition what recourse does a citizen have when
this surrender of information, as required by law, to a government
agency results in harm to a citizen? Are there "any" guarantees?

A SSN is a confidential Taxpayer Identification Number ("TIN") under
the Federal Internal Revenue Code at 26 CFR 6103, and well known to be
easily misused by almost anyone to invade one's privacy and wreak havoc
upon an individual's private and economic life, and that of his
family's private and economic affairs.

We are told constantly that there is "no" way for YOUR information
to be compromised but the recent Choice Point scandal
(http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005...ain678810.shtml) as
well as the most recent theft of U.S. Air Force officer's military
information says otherwise and may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Agencies Demand Access to it:
Citizens and legislators alike are constantly told that we are all
made safer because government has access to YOUR SSN for identity
verification purposes. But is this TRUE?

Let's take for example the process to purchase a firearm in PA and a
very recent example of the failure of the PA State Police "PICS"
system. Jason Schafer is a former Marine who was assigned to White
House duty and now, in civilian life, is a firearms instructor and a
computer IT specialist. His record will not show so much as an arrest
and yet last month (November 2005) he was denied the purchase of a
single action revolver for his firearm training classes despite the
fact that he possesses a current PA LTCF, as well similar firearms
carry permits from several other states, and has purchased (without any
previous problems) numerous other firearms.

Jason successfully challenged this outrageous and unjustified denial
and as a part of this "challenge" process was told that the reason was
that someone with the "same name" (?) had a Protection from Abuse order
issued against him. Are we to take this to mean that the SSN, date of
birth, and other identifying information were of "NO" use to law
enforcement in differentiating between these two individuals? IF that
is the case then why does the PA State Police-PICS system need the SSN?
Jason Schafer has been asking this very question, among others, to no
avail.

This also raises another darker prospect in that how can any
background check system work IF identities are easily stolen or
fabricated AND doesn't this invalidate the main purpose of the firearms
instant check system?

Summation:

Mike Stollenwerk was the key to the successful court case that
effectively overturned Virginia's use of SSNs in applications for
Concealed Handgun Permits based on the clear language of Federal law
(see Message Item (A)). Mike's current lawsuit in Pennsylvania has
been going well so far, but court cases are driven by money and more is
needed to win in district court and then to prevail on a likely appeal.
If this lawsuit prevails, SSN disclosures to firearm dealers and
Sheriffs will become optional and all LTCF holders will be able to get
a new license without their Social Security numbers printed upon it.
Additionally, the ruling would provide persuasive case law authority to
fix other states' abuses of firearm owners' SSN privacy rights, and
allow the federal courts in Pennsylvania to explicitly recognize
Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution as providing an
individual right to bear arms -- something that the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court already did in Ortiz v. Commonwealth, 681 A.2d 152, 156
(Pa. 1996) holding that the "ownership of firearms is Constitutionally
protected" under the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The cite for this case is Michael Stollenwerk v. Jeffery B. Miller
et al.; No. 04-5510 (United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania). On 24 March 2005, Federal District Judge
Juan Sanchez DENIED the Sheriff of Lancaster's motion to dismiss the
case.

Of course, some who read this will possibly consider this in the
same vein as tilting at windmills, like Don Quixote, but remember that
PA motorcycle groups were told that repealing the helmet law was not
achievable; but it was, and that the recent repeal of the pay raise
would not happen and of course this too just occurred. History is
replete with examples of changes occurring because of one man's
determination, the changes to the reviled PA firearm law; ACT 17 is an
example of more dogged determination. In this case Mike is asking our
financial help with this extremely important case. My check will be in
the mail on Tuesday and I hope you can find your way clear to help him
and his lawsuit as well.

You may send your tax-deductible contribution to support this
lawsuit through GOA's "Gun Owners Foundation." Just visit the GOF
website at http://www.gunowners.com/stollenwerk.htm and you can make
your contribution by credit card.

Or, you can contribute by mail. Write the check to "Gun Owners
Foundation," and then on the memo line, write "Stollenwerk Assistance
Fund," and address the envelope to:

Gun Owners Foundation
8001 Forbes Place
Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151

All contributors will get an e-mailed receipt, followed by a printed
thank you note and documentation of the **tax deductible** status of
their contribution from Gun Owners Foundation.

Thank you for your time AND your consideration of this extremely
important issue!

Kim Stolfer
ACSL, Legislative Committee, Chairman
www.acslpa.org
(412) 221-3346, Home Phone
(412) 257-1099, Home Fax
(412) 352-5018, Cell


Item A:
Federal Privacy Act of 1974, 5 USC 552a
Sec. 7 (a)(1) It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local
government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or
privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to
disclose his social security account number.
(2) the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not apply
with respect to--
(A) any disclosure which is required by Federal statute, or
(B) any disclosure of a social security number to any Federal, State,
or local agency maintaining a system of records in existence and
operating before January 1, 1975, if such disclosure was required under
statute or regulation adopted prior to such date to verify the identity
of an individual.
(b) Any Federal, State or local government agency which requests an
individual to disclose his social security account number shall inform
that individual whether that disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, by
what statutory or other authority such number is solicited, and what
uses will be made of it.

*************************************

Item B:
Draft Letter to Congressman in Support of HR 4144:
(Find your Congressman at http://www.house.gov/)

Dear Representative__________:

I am writing you to express my strong support of H.R.4144, and ask that
you please contact Representative English and tell him you wish to
co-sponsor H.R.4144

This legislation deals with an important and timely issue that concerns
all Pennsylvania sportsmen and women-privacy, identity theft, and
identity fraud. The requirement to provide a Social Security Number
(SSN) for a recreational license to mainly private actors (such as Wal
Mart) is not only unnecessary but it further endangers citizens by
adding another point for criminal acquisition of this all-important
information that is the critical key to an individual's financial and
personal historical information. As you know identity theft is one of
the fastest growing segments of crime facing our state. It is
important for the law to embrace common sense measures that protect
citizens from potential harm.

A SSN is a confidential Taxpayer Identification Number ("TIN") under
the federal Internal Revenue Code at 26 CFR 6103, and well known to be
easily misused by almost anyone to invade one's privacy and wreak havoc
upon an individual's private and economic life, and that of his
family's private and economic affairs.

In fact, Section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-579 S 7, 88
Stat. 1896, 1909 (1974), as codified at 5 U.S.C. 552a provides that:
(a)(1) It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State, or local government
agency to deny to an individual any right, benefit, or privilege
provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his
social security account number.
(2) the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not apply
with respect to--
(A) any disclosure which is required by Federal statute, or
(B) the disclosure of a social security number to any Federal, State or
local agency maintaining a system of records in existence and operating
before January 1, 1975, if such disclosure was required under statute
or regulation adopted prior to such date to verify the identity of an
individual.
I strongly encourage you to support this common sense legislation, HR
4144. IF you do not support this legislation then I respectfully
request of you, as my representative, the information on how many
individuals that were evading paying child support have been
successfully intercepted using this requirement in Pennsylvania.

Please let me know your position on this legislation at your earliest
convenience.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of my concerns on this
issue.

Respectfully,

(Your Name)

*************************************

Item C:
* * Copy of Stollenwerk's June 2004 published letter to the editor of
First Freedom Magazine re: the need to repeal federal authority for
states to demand SSNs from applicants for recreational (i.e.,
hunting/fishing/trapping) licenses.* *

Dear Editor:

The NRA's interest in advancing the rights of hunters (see "Big Bucks,
Bad
Ideas: Growing war chests help various efforts to hamstring hunters and
wildlife conservation," by Gary Lantz, America's First Freedom, April
2004, p. 45) could be furthered substantially by getting the Congress
to repeal the relatively new law that requires [the] several states to
demand disclosure of Social Security Numbers ("SSNs") from hunting
license applicants.

This invasive and undignified exception to Section 7 of the Federal
Privacy Act is codified at 42 USC 666(a)(13)(A), and it provides
authority for states to require hunters and other applicants for any
"recreational license" to disclose their SSN, if any. I write "if
any," because the Social Security Act does not require Americans to
obtain assignment of SSNs to live, work, or hunt in the United States.
In practice, however, many states misinterpret 42 USC 666 to require
hunting applicants to obtain assignment of SSNs in order to obtain a
hunting license.

The SSN disclosure requirement for hunters is not just undignified - it
forces every hunter to place his family at risk of identity theft and
other invasions of privacy in order to exercise his right to hunt,
sometimes even on his own land.

It is well known that the decentralized execution of hunting licensure
means that hunters must turn over their confidential SSN to private
actors in an unsecured environment with few data controls.

Incredibly, in Virginia and many other states, hunting license
applications are public records - anyone can demand to see and copy the
application, and sell or publish the information [period (.) added by
publisher], including the hunter's SSN! Many state legislatures and
hunting groups have already publicly asked Congress to repeal the SSN
disclosure requirement for hunters.

Now that the NRA has helped enforce privacy rights for gun buyer data
under the Brady Act, it's time for the NRA to mobilize to convince
Congress to reinstate SSN privacy rights for hunters.

Mike Stollenwerk

*************************************

Item D:

Legal Overview of Requiring Social Security Numbers for the Exercise of
a Constitutional Right

In order to determine if the provisions of the Privacy Act apply to
the current PA LTCF statutes' (Title 18, section 6109) requirement of
submission of a social security number by persons attempting to obtain
a LTCF, a court would have to determine whether such activity affects a
"right, benefit, or privilege." The Privacy Act does not specifically
define what is to be considered a "right, benefit, or privilege." There
do not appear to be any federal cases which clearly address the issue
of what shall be considered a "right, benefit, or privilege" under the
Privacy Act. In Wolman v. United States, 501 F.Supp. 310, the court
briefly noted that a requirement that persons signing up for the
Selective Service System supply their social security number affected a
"right, benefit, or privilege" since "citizens have a duty to serve in
the Armed Forces and a correlative right to register unimpeded by
invasion of their privacy unless statutorily authorized." In Deeds vs.
County of Fairfax, 151 F.3d 1028 (4th Cir. 1998), the court held that
the Privacy Act applied to applications for handgun carrying permits.
In Wolman, the court noted that the Privacy Act was, as noted by
Senator Percy, enacted "to block any further expansion of the use of
Social Security number as a 'universal identifier.'" Id. at 310. A
court would likely interpret the provisions of PA Title 18 Crimes Code
6109 as creating a statutorily generated "right, benefit, or
privilege" to be able to acquire a license to carry from a Sheriff if
he/she meets the conditions of the statute. Therefore, a court would
likely apply the provisions of the Privacy Act to the statute's
requirement that a Social Security Number be supplied.

Under the Privacy Act, PA Sheriffs are not prohibited from
requesting that individuals submit their Social Security Numbers on a
voluntary basis when filling out the form. However, Section 7(b) of
the Privacy Act of 1974 requires state officials and agencies that
request the disclosure of social security numbers inform the individual
"whether that disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, by what statutory
authority such a number is solicited, and what uses will be made of
it." Therefore provided there is appropriate disclosure, PA Sheriff's
may 'only' request that a person completing the license application
voluntarily provide a Social Security Number.

In Deeds, the court held that the county substantially complied with
Section 7 of the Privacy Act by providing a document along with the
application for a Concealed Carry Permit that detailed the reason a
request was made for a person's Social Security Number and the State
Law provision necessitating the request.

However, it is our view, and the view of the current Ohio Attorney
General that the Privacy Act forbids denial of a license to carry on
account of nondisclosure of a Social Security Number, unless one of the
statutory exceptions to the prohibition quoted above applies.
Exceptions to the act include disclosures required by Federal Statute
or disclosure of the Social Security Number to any Federal, State, or
Local agency maintaining a system of records in existence and operating
before January 1, 1975, if such a disclosure was required under statute
or regulation adopted prior to such date to verify the identity of an
individual. See Section7 of the Privacy Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-579 S
7, 88 Stat. 1896, 1909 (1974). Prior to 1988, no State agency governed
the issuance of licenses to carry a firearm nor was there any uniform
state law governing this provision. Therefore, this exception would
not be applicable.

In Deeds vs. County of Fairfax, 151 F.3d 1028 (4th Cir. 1998), the
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt with the manner in which an
agency treated a person's Social Security Number after it was
voluntarily provided to the agency. However, not at issue in the case
was the ability of an agency to deny a Concealed Handgun Permit or
firearm sale to a person who refused to provide his Social Security
Number. As the Tennesee Attorney General already opined, a court would
most likely interpret current Federal Law to prohibit PA Sheriff's and
the PA State Police from denying approval of a firearm purchase based
solely on the individual's refusal to supply his social security
number.

* * End of Report * *
Kim Stolfer
Legislative Committee, Chairman
Allegheny County Sportsmen's League, Inc.
www.acslpa.org
(412) 221-3346, Home Phone
(412) 257-1099, Home Fax
(412) 352-5018, Cell

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yonderway
December 26, 2005, 08:13 PM
Hmmm I wonder why the GOA never sent me email about this.

Their philosophy is dead-on but their execution, especially with regards to Internet communications, is leaving something to be desired. :rolleyes:

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