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N.Y. county to 'condemn' 'The Journal News' newspaper for gun-permit map

2:58 PM, Jan 10, 2013   |    comments
Rockland County Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, center, addresses media on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, announcing initiatives in reaction to the Journal News' publication of names of pistol permit holders in Rockland County.(Photo: Darryl Bautista, Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal)
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NEW CITY, N.Y. -- When the Rockland County Legislature convenes next week, its agenda includes three gun-related measures, including a resolution condemning The Journal News for publishing a controversial map of handgun-permit holders.

The board's Public Safety Committee voted 5-1 Tuesday on a resolution "condemning" The Journal News for "exercising poor judgment in its decision to create an interactive website making the names and addresses of all lawful pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties readily available to members of the public."

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The resolution also demands the removal of the map.

"The Journal News didn't understand the problem that this would cause in terms of public safety," the Legislature's Minority Leader Cris Carey said. "I was disappointed that once they understood they didn't pull down the map."

Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell, who voted for the resolution could not be reached Wednesday, but fellow legislators Carey and Jay Hood, who also cast votes in favor of it, said she questioned the use of the term "condemn" and said she would write her own statement to express her thoughts on the map.

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The Public Safety Committee also voted 6-0 to support a program to provide free gun locks to residents. By the same vote, the body supported changing state law to keep private the names and addresses of pistol-permit holders, except in cases of law enforcement investigations.

State Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, a vocal opponent of the map, said he intends to submit legislation to condemn the newspaper's publication of the database in the Senate. Upstate Assemblywoman Addie Russell, D-Theresa, said this week that she also would bring legislation forward.

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On Dec. 23, The Journal News published an interactive map with the names and addresses of legal pistol-permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties. The map, on the newspaper's website, LoHud.com, was accompanied by an article about what information is and is not public about gun ownership.

The map ignited a firestorm of controversy and continues to be criticized by some who feel it threatens public safety and by others who feel it demonizes legal gun owners.

MORE: NY newspaper gun-owner database draws criticism

A white powder substance that was mailed to the newspaper was deemed non-toxic and armed guards were hired at the headquarters after the public outcry.

Carey has concerns about the safety of permit and nonpermit holders alike because, Carey said, criminals potentially can use the map to determine who may have a gun to steal or who has no gun and poses less of a threat to a burglar.

Hood, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he also wants the map taken down.

"I don't agree with what some on the other side are doing, threatening the journalists, but I don't think it should have been published," Hood said.

"There's nothing illegal about it, but should it have been done? I don't think so. I don't think it serves any purpose," he said.

In another action, the Orangetown Town Board voted 4-0 Tuesday to also condemn the newspaper for publishing the map, after a resident requested such action. Supervisor Andy Stewart abstained. He could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

 

Laura Incalcaterra, The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News

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