Social Security Numbers on 4473
Packing.org reports that a Federal judge has ruled that Pennsylvania’s requirement of a social security number to buy a gun or get a concealed weapons permit violates privacy rights:
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.”
I personally don’t really care. In a society where you’re already
required err threatened with an inordinate amount of inconvenience (like losing tax benefits and no ability to get a job) without a number, putting it on some other random piece of paper isn’t something to get too worked up about.