In December, The Journal News, a publication based in New York's lower Hudson Valley, published an article that was provocatively titled "The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood"
. The article was accompanied by an interactive map that showed the names and addresses of gun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland Counties.
A third request for the information of legal gun owners was made to nearby Putnam County, however, earlier in the week that county declined to provide
The Journal News with the information citing safety concerns and ethics.
In light of this concern, it seems the concerns expressed by Putnam County are valid.
Police and correctional officers at risk
According to the Peekskill-Cortlandt Patch
, Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco said yesterday that correctional officers at the county's jails have had inmates approach them and recite their home addresses over the past two weeks.
Both permit holders and non-gun owners concerned
County Legislator Aron Wieder (D) brought a check and a permit application to a recent press conference about the issue. Wieder also noted that if The Journal News won't remove the resident information on the map, he requests that it be updated to include his name as a permit holder.
"I have never owned a gun, but now I have no choice," Wieder said, according to a report published in USA Today
. "I have been exposed as someone who does not have a gun and I will do anything to protect my family."
Other concerns expressed involve abused spouses who now worry their ex-spouses will come after them.
New legislation to be introduced
Many lawmakers have called on The Journal News to remove the map from its website and this request has bipartisan support. Rockland County is also now following Putnam County's lead
in pursuing state legislation to make handgun permit information confidential, except to authorities.
"Rockland County Legislator Frank Sparaco will announce a resolution to condemn the decision by The Journal News to post the names and addresses of lawful pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester Counties," a recent press release said, reported Nyack-Piermont Patch
"This is an issue of common sense," said legislator Frank Sparaco (R). "The Journal News' sensational actions have placed residents at risk."
Widespread support of legislation to restrict public access
Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato, also the president of the New York State Association of County Clerks, said all of the 62 county clerks in New York State are in favor of legislation to keep permit information confidential.
Piperato said, “This is no way to sell newspapers. I want to demand The Journal News get that map and that list off their website.”
Piperato told The Rockland Times
, “I’ve received hundreds of calls from people worried about their safety. The Journal News is trying to relate this information to the Newtown [shootings]. I don’t see the relationship,"
Despite the fact that police and correctional officers, government officials and residents may now be at risk, The Journal News is standing by its story and the article remains visible online.