Even as “Journal News” said that they would continue to publish and release the names and addresses of gun-owners in Putnam County and that names will be added as and when they were made available to them, stating that the people in the neighborhood had a right to know where the guns were in their neighborhood.
This has ignited a fierce debate about intrusion into personal privacy and similar concerns. AMI Global Security called it a “massive privacy breach” and that it was an attempt to “intimidate the lawful” and “abrogate the Bill of Rights.” They said, they fail to understand what useful purpose it serves to tell people where the legal guns are. Why don’t they concentrate their efforts into finding out where the illegals ones are, they argue?
Meanwhile, authorities in an uptown county, north of New York City said that they will deny and turn down requests to release names of local gun owners to New York-based Journal News. Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant said, it was unethical and unlawful to do so and the newspaper was in the wrong for publishing the names, merely for the sake of boosting newspaper sales. He said that he had no intention of releasing the names of gun-owners in Putnam and exposing them to harm.
The Journal News published a map showing thousands of legally gun possessing individuals in the counties of Westchester and Rockland. The newspaper management had filed a request with the counties, under the Freedom of Information Act, which the counties acceded to. Sant, however said that he would defy any such request.
The editors of the Journal said that the tragic massacre at Sandy Hooks, which sparked off a national debate about gun control, had motivated them to seek and publish such information as they believed that such information should be in the public domain and that it was the right of the people of Putnam County to view such information.
Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group said that it was disconcerting that the county officials are now having second thoughts about divulging information, even though the law clearly says that it should be made available to the local people.
Enraged gun owners have asked marketers not to advertise in the newspaper until it removes all information that shows who owns the guns.
Putnam County officials accepted that they were accumulating all the names to give to the newspapers, but following receiving hundreds of calls from people requesting them not to do so, has made them change their view and said on Tuesday that they would not disclose the names and addresses of the gun-owners.
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell along with other officials and staff would appear with Republican state Senator Greg Ball to address a press conference where they would announce that the names would not be made known. Sen. Ball said that he would introduce legislation which would make such information private and available only to prosecutors and police.
The newspaper had in their write-up alluded to the statements made by Robert Freeman, executive director of the state’s Committee on Open Government who had allegedly said that not only should names and addressed be made public, but even such details as the type of weapon and its license number. Freeman went on to say, that until government statistics were explicitly banned by ruling and there was a specific legal ban on their being made public they were presumed to be open to the public.
The newspaper management said that they expected that the publication of the names would cause controversy and debate. Hasson said that they felt that it was important that such information should be shared, especially after the Newtown shootings.