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    Written by: John Ferro

    CARMEL — Putnam County officials say they will refuse a newspaper’s request to release the names and addresses of residents with pistol permits as a matter of safety.

    State Sen. Greg Ball, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Assemblyman Steve Katz and County Clerk Dennis Sant held a press conference today at the historic county courthouse building in Carmel.

    Ball and the two Putnam officials have said they would refuse to release the data requested by The Journal News of White Plains, which sought the records under the state Freedom of Information Law.

    “This is not about defending the issue of gun control ownership in the aftermath of Newtown,” Odell said, referring to the Dec. 14 mass killing of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. “This issue is strictly about the privacy and safety of our law-abiding citizens.”

    Sant said this has been a very emotional time for him.

    “I am a man who follows the rule of law. This is not about the rule of law anymore. We are talking about endangering citizens,” Sant said.

    Ball said he will introduce legislation in the state Senate to make sure gun permit database release is at the discretion of law enforcement.

    There was a heavy TV media presence at the noon press conference.

    One person attending in the audience brought a sign that reads “Legal gun owners are not criminals.”

    Putnam County officials in December had told the Journal News that it was compiling the data.

    Ball, R-Patterson, Odell and Sant scheduled the press conference today to “announce that Putnam County will not be releasing the records of Putnam pistol permits to The Journal News.” Ball represents Beekman and Pawling in Dutchess, along with eastern Putnam County and northern Westchester.

    The Journal News Dec. 23 published a story as well as an interactive map on its website, The map identified the names and addresses of those who legally hold pistol permits in Westchester and Rockland counties. A request also was made to Putnam County at that time.

    That map ignited a firestorm of controversy, but also generated support. All three requests for the gun data followed last month’s mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (ARTICLE)