Carmel, N.Y. – 1/3/2013 – Today Senator Greg Ball (Patterson – R, C, I) joined Putnam County Clerk, Dennis Sant and other officials at the Putnam County Court House to announce that Putnam County will not be releasing the records of Putnam Pistol Permits to the Journal News.
The Journal News Newspaper, a Gannett Company, recently posted a map on their website that unethically reveals homeowners with pistol permits in Westchester and Rockland Counties. The Journal News is now attempting to obtain and publish records in Putnam County and other counties statewide.
Senator Ball, in the Assembly multi-sponsored Assembly bill 820, legislation which would prohibit the public disclosure of information in an application for a pistol license with exceptions for prosecutors and police conducting an active investigation. Senator Ball will be introducing similar legislation, immediately. The bill would protect lawful gun owners from being targeted by thieves for firearm burglaries and eliminate a database criminals could use to extort their identity-theft victims.
“I’m proud to stand with Putnam County and proud that Putnam won’t be releasing its pistol permit records. We will work as a team to leverage every protection for our shared constituencies. The asinine editors at the Journal News have gone out of their way to place a virtual scarlet letter on law abiding firearm owners throughout the region and I thank God that Putnam County has a clerk with the guts to stand up and draw the line here in Putnam County. This is clearly a violation of privacy, and needs to be corrected immediately. The same elitist eggheads who use their editorial page to coddle terrorists and criminals are now treating law-abiding citizens like level three sexual predators. Every person with commonsense should be offended,” said Senator Greg Ball. “Publishing this information on a website provides criminals with a map of where they can steal firearms from lawful owners for later use in the commission of crimes. We have victims of domestic violence, retired cops with families and good decent, law abiding people, all being publicly exposed by the idiotic Journal News editors, and its time for Putnam to draw a line in the sand and say, enough is enough.”
Sant, who has served in the County Clerk’s Office since 1978, refused to comply with the newspaper’s FOIL request seeking the same information on Putnam gun permit holders. Sant cited the safety of Putnam’s citizens as his reason for not complying.
“Our world today is far different than it was only a few years ago. Computers, social media, Google maps – much of our lives can easily be exposed and made available whether we want it to be or not,” said Sant. “Today you can take what The Journal News put into print, go on Google Earth and virtually be sitting on the front porch of a house reading the license plate of a car parked in the driveway. This county clerk refuses to put law abiding citizens in harm’s way.”
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said she is as adamant in her support for Sant as she is that the issue at hand, the release of pistol permit holders’ names and addresses, has nothing to do with gun control or the recent shooting tragedy in Newtown, CT.
“We simply cannot stand by and allow this to happen,” Odell said. “Safeguarding our citizens is of the utmost importance right now. The FOIL request by the Journal News was reckless as it puts every Putnam family at risk: people with legally registered guns as well as those who have chosen not to have a weapon in their house.”
Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith said while he is a strong believer in open government he believes this type of information should only be releases for legal court proceedings.
“I strongly believe that making these names and addresses public information to potential perpetrators of crime is bad public policy that puts law abiding citizens in potential danger,” said Smith. “I am deeply troubled by the fact that releasing this information will provide the names and addresses of members of law enforcement including members who may be working undercover.”
Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy said innocent people may find they are targets of a criminal element.
“Just because the information may be public does not necessarily mean it is prudent to allow that information to get into the hands of certain individuals, those of a criminal element who would use that information to further victimize people here in Putnam County,” said Levy. “The paper should be very concerned about who is reviewing this information and how they are going to use it to potentially commit further crimes.”
For more information or to speak with Senator Ball, please contact Joe Bachmeier at (845) 200 9716.