Written by: JOHN FERRO
Putnam County and state officials vowed today to continue to deny The Journal News’ request to release the names and addresses of Putnam residents who hold pistol permits.
Standing inside Putnam County’s Historic Courthouse building, County Executive MaryEllen Odell, joined by State Sen. Greg Ball, County Clerk Dennis Sant and Assemblyman Steve Katz, said the decision to withhold the data was “correct and made from the standpoint of protecting its citizens.”
The Journal News had requested the data through a Freedom of Information request. Gun-permit data is a matter of public record in New York.
“This is not about defending the issue of gun control in the aftermath of Newtown,” Odell said. “This is issue is strictly — strictly — about the privacy and safety of our law-abiding citizens.”
Sant said he felt public safety should be a priority.
“This has been a very emotional time for this county clerk,” Saint said. “I have served here for 35 years. I am a man who follows the rule of law. We are not talking about the rule of law anymore. We are talking about endangering citizens.”
Sant raised concerns that the state’s Freedom of Information law was written more than 30 years ago.
“Thirty years ago we didn’t have Facebook, social media and Google maps. That is the rock that broke the camel’s back on this issue. Now you can take and put red flags over Google maps over every resident who owns a gun.”
State Sen. Greg Ball and Assemblyman Steve Katz vowed to introduce legisilation that would limit acess to gun-permit databases. Ball said he envisioned legislation that would limit release of the gun database to law enforcement agencies, which could then decide whether or not to disseminate the information further.
“I will fight with you until hell freezes over and then fight on the ice,” Ball said. “We will hold The Journal News’ Editorial Board accountable and I urge you to cancel your subscription and then tell your neighbor to cancel theirs.”
Katz criticized the newspaper for not clarifying why it had released the data.
“The Journal News has really come up with the perfect map for the perpetrators and for the stalkers and for the criminals,” Katz said. “They have yet to give us a cogent reason why, except for the reason that they can. I am sorry — that is not acceptable.”
Putnam County officials in December had told The Journal News that it was compiling the data. Ball, R-Patterson, Odell and Sant have scheduled a press conference for 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, www.lohud.com.  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 )