Categorized | Local News, WiderWorld

Pistol Permit Issue Packs A Punch

Posted on 05 January 2013 by Editor

What happens when a hometown turns on its newspaper? Well, The Journal News is finding out these days as an editorial decision has gathered national headlines and harsh criticism. The now infamous interactive map of pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties has nearly everyone, from average readers to advertisers to Rockland officials across the spectrum, including the sheriff himself, lining up to throw stones.

If The Journal News thinks they can intimidate Putnam, they are sorely mistaken. Before I waver, the egghead editors at the Journal News can kiss my white, Irish behind.  — New York State Senator Greg Ball (R, C), 40th Senate District.

The Rockland County Times, one of the first local publications to upbraid the Journal News‘ decision to publish the permit material, has tracked the issue as it caught fire both in Rockland County and nationally. And the blow back against the Journal News has been fierce.

Upon its first publication, RCT Editor Dylan Skriloff called the Journal News article an “editorial hit-squad,” and said that the paper’s tactics amounted to an effort to “criminalize ordinary, law-abiding gun owners in the area.”

Friday morning, a group of bipartisan Rockland lawmakers and officials brought together by Rockland Legislator and Deputy Minority Leader Frank Sparaco (R), Valley Cottage, held a press conference to cudgel the Journal News and announce support of proposed state legislation to amend the state law as it relates to the confidentiality of information contained in pistol permit applications. Collectively the group appeared to agree with Skriloff’s initial condemnation. The press conference included Spring Valley Police Chief Paul Modica, Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan, County Legislators Ilan Schoenberger, Aron Weider and Tony Earl, Clerk Piperato, and the committee leaders of the Republican, Democratic, Independence, Working Families and Conservative Parties.

Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco said “it was very, very poor judgment and a poor marketing move on their part to do. Now criminals can go to houses where guns are or where they know they’re not.” Falco said that he had to meet with corrections officers and their unions because inmates were calling out to guards the location of their home addresses. The sheriff said he supported the Journal News removing the information from LoHud and favored a law that would prohibit the media from obtaining pistol permit information.

Rockland Legislator Sparaco, one of the youngest members of the County Legislature, called the Journal News‘ actions “sensationalist” and that they have placed residents at risk. “This action is deplorable though not illegal,” said Sparaco. “We call upon the editors and owners of the Journal News to remove this map immediately.”

Putnam County has very publicly rejected the Journal News‘ request for its pistol permit holders. In a statement of support of Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant, NY State Senator Greg Ball who represents the 40th District boldy called the editors at the Journal News “asinine.” Ball said the paper placed a “virtual scarlet letter on law abiding firearm owners throughout the region.”

In his statement, Ball also succinctly said:

“The county clerk has my full support to protect these law abiding citizens and if The Journal News thinks they can intimidate Putnam, they are sorely mistaken. Before I waver, the egghead editors at the Journal News can kiss my white, Irish behind.”

The RCT also reported that Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato said nearly 25% of the addresses in the Rockland map are not accurate due to changes in address. Many county registries are not reliable as a source of addresses, Piperato said. As president of the New York State Association of County Clerks, Piperato also said the association, which represents 62 NY state counties, is backing legislation restricting the publication of gun permit registration data.

With its data dump, the Journal News stepped into an emotional issue that tends to get messy very quickly. Lost in the chorus of catcalls is the fact the what the Journal News did is perfectly legal. Clerk Piperato said he believed that Putnam County would eventually lose in court because state law is very clear on the issue. Article 400, section 5 of the NY Penal Law states: The name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted shall be a public record. 

Reuters reporter Jack Shafer presents a balanced view of what’s now taking place in Rockland County. Shafer cites a recent academic paper called Guns, Privacy, and Crime that explores a case that nearly exactly mirrors the Journal News issue. A local Tennessee paper published a searchable database of people permitted to carry handguns, just as the Journal News did. Burglary actually decreased in the Tennessee neighborhoods that showed a lot of gun permits.

The guns involved in the Newton, CT shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school were permitted and legal. Personal information of the estimated 180,000 people in Connecticut that have pistol permits is confidential via CT state law and has been for nearly 20 years. But that may soon change.

According to WTNH News 8, Democratic State Representative Steve Dargan of West Haven, co-chair of the legislature’s Public Safety Committee, and reportedly considered a friend of gun owners, is proposing that the gun owners confidentiality law be overturned and that the names and addresses of CT permit holders be made public.

The Journal News hit a very hot button issue. The U.S. market is the largest and most active market for handguns and other small arms in the world. And the U.S. is also the world’s largest arms exporter. With such a pedigree, it’s a wonder that the current rules of engagement appear to work fairly well. The Journal News’ map looked dense with dots enough while showing only hand gun permits. Rifles and shotguns are not registered in Rockland County.

Press conference photo of Rockland Legislator and Deputy Minority Leader Frank Sparaco (R), Valley Cottage, courtesy of Kevin Zawacki, Patch. The Journal News offices photo courtesy of Fox News.

 

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18 Comments For This Post

  1. David Egerton Says:

    What the Journal News did was evil. They have treated me and other law abidding citizens as criminals. Trying to intimidate us into not owning firearms. Well, they cannot do this. New York State must change it’s laws to make information on firearm ownership available to law enforement only. People in Ct should oppose any laws that make thier information available to the public as well.

    Here is an example of the harm it can cause: I have a freind that was stabbed someone some years back. The person who stabbed him went to prison. But before he did he threatened to take revenge on my friend. So, my friend moved to another town. And he bought a handgun to protect himself from this person. The town he moved to is in Westchester. A few months ago the person who had threatened his life was paroled from prison. Now that person has access to find the exact location of his new home. My friend has 2 small children and a wife. Now he must live in fear for himself and his family.

  2. Editor Says:

    Note from the Editor: The Journal News is a reputable publication that has a lot of good reporters who do important work on any number of issues. The paper’s coverage on this particular complex issue, guns and how they’re used in the U.S., also happens to be a very emotional issue for many people. There is still debate, even among members of the Supreme Court, just what “a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” actually means in terms of government regulating guns. We the people were given the right to essentially decide what we the people decide to do.

    Many comments reflect the emotions people have as they relate to civil liberties, which can be a two sided coin. SV.com does not endorse any of the positions one way or the other. This is an open forum. People can vent. Just do no evil.

  3. Da Doctor Says:

    I’d move out of that God-forsaken state immediately. Come to the mid-west where common sense and civility are the norm, and not the exception.

    Indiana is calling you home folks.

  4. TSgt B Says:

    Now could someone please explain how requiring a state-issued permit to exercise a fundamental, inalienable, Constitutionally-protected, human RIGHT is a good idea?

    GUN CONTROL: the most deadly scheme ever devised.

  5. John Says:

    For those people who live in these counties, if any crime should happen, they should SUE the paper for putting their lives and property at risk for its shoddy reporting. They can not claim freedom of the press, what they have done is a overreach and should be held accountable!!!

  6. BHirsh Says:

    There is what is legal, and then there is what is right.

    Sen. Ball has it nailed. This is a leftist pogrom against lawful gun owners, that paints a “scarlet letter” on people for merely exercising their natural enumerated right to arms. It is an attempt to marginalize them, which is a communist, Saul Alynski tactic, and purely EVIL.

    If this doesn’t alert average Americans to the communist mindset of much of the U.S. press, then the average American is unconscious.

  7. Buddy from Texas Says:

    STOP BUYING THE NEWSPAPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Cordras Says:

    I think the journal news should be held financially responsible for relocation costs should any of these people want to move. Most of those guards will now feel the need to move, the paper should pay for it. If anyone is injured or robbed by someone who admits to using the information, gun owner or otherwise the paper should pay for their treatment or reimburse them.

    This newspaper screwed up royally, this is only the least the could do. Usually when you endanger mass numbers of innocent civilians gets you sent to jail. Send everyone involved with the making of this map to jail, that’d also be good and right.

  9. Robert Fowler Says:

    The best way to get the message across is to contact their advertisers. A boycott will have a lasting effect.

    This is a good reason that I live where I don’t have to register my firearms. A permit for a inalienable right is wrong.

  10. Jim D Says:

    Seems an appropriate time for the sheriff to visit the offices of the newspaper and make sure the armed security guards have the proper permits for their weapons.

    Did you hear about their employees? I hear they’re bringing in unlicensed weapons to the office. That’s what I heard. Maybe their desks should be searched. Their cars. Maybe bring drug sniffing dogs.

  11. Dustin E Says:

    The fact that there is gun registration in the first place is a direct violation of the 2nd Amendment, we need to abolish that mess as well.

  12. PJ Says:

    “It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits, than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.” — Thomas Jefferson

    Folks, why are you still taking this newspaper? This “Ministry of Propaganda” is working for the regime, not for you. You’d be better off taking Pravda.

  13. GPB Says:

    Come to Florida. Our state has a law that keeps this information out of the hands of the public. It is against the law to obtain or publish the data, and only the LE community has access to it. We’re also a “shall issue” state with regards to concealed weapons permits. If you want to carry a concealed weapon, all you need is a small fee and no criminal record. There are just under a million CW holders here – 1 person in 17 in Florida has a license to carry a concealed weapon. And here’s the kicker – the crime rate down here continues to drop year after year. C’mon down, and get away from the liberal gun-haters.

  14. Raconteur Says:

    This stunt was pulled in Virginia, by the Roanoke paper. It had much the same results with battered women in hiding being exposed and cops and judges being outed to their enemies.
    The Journal News knew what would happen. If a permit holder gets harmed because of this stunt and it can be shown in court, the editor, etc., could possibly be charged with criminal negligence.

  15. Down South Says:

    Someone should publish a map of the newspaper editor and staff’s home addresses on a website and note that they are unarmed households. Then they could worry about the safety of their homes and family. It’s only fair!

  16. Hoosier Says:

    The lawmakers that wrote the law, that made the names & addresses “public record” are as guilty as the newspaper that published the info. Why should people exercising one of our many rights be subject to this? It’s amusing that the members of this newspaper were upset when their names & addresses were outed.

    Folks in this community should cancel their subscriptions to the paper and call the businesses that advertise in it, to tell them they won’t spend their money with anyone that supports the paper.

  17. B Woodman Says:

    Do a Boston Tea Party dump on the “news”paper where ever you find it, as often as you can.
    Make it unsellable.

  18. Molly Says:

    If you have a gun, what are you so worried about? You can shoot anyone who comes looking for you, right? Anyon

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