Local Government Refuses to Give Local Newspaper Data for Its Gun-Owner Map

The Putnam County Clerk says the Journal News's feature on where gun permit owners live is "clearly wrong," and won't release more records without a fight.

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The Journal News, a newspaper serving the northern suburbs of New York City, wants to expand its controversial feature mapping where people who own gun permits live (complete with interactive Google Map) to include New York State's Putnam County. But Putnam's County Clerk refuses to hand over the records. "There is the rule of law, and there is right and wrong, and the Journal News is clearly wrong," Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant told a local TV station Wednesday. Sant went on: "I could not live with myself if one Putnam pistol permit holder was put in harm's way, for the sole purpose of selling newspapers." The statement has already attracted support: Republican State Senator Greg Ball will defend the clerk's decision tomorrow in a noon press conference. Ball's support isn't surprising; last week, he called the newspaper's editors "asinine," and demanded that they remove the gun map from the Journal News's website:

The immediate elimination of the information posted on the Journal News Website is the only way we can ensure the safety and liberty of these New Yorkers. This is clearly a violation of privacy, and needs to be corrected immediately. The same elitist egg heads who use their editorial page to coddle terrorists and criminals are now treating law abiding citizens like level three sexual predators.

Around the same time of Ball's statement (which preceded an appearance on Fox News, where the senator announced legislation to better protect gun owners' personal information), the Journal News stationed armed guards at its office in West Nyack, N.Y., after editors, whose private information leaked last week, began receiving vaguely threatening emails:

[Journal News Rockland Editor Caryn A. McBride] had filed at least two reports with the Clarkstown Police Department due to perceived threats. However, the police did not find the communications in question actually threatening. Incident-Report 2012-00033099 describes McBride telling police she was worried because an email writer wondered “what McBride would get in her mail now.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.