(Adds response from newspaper)
By Noreen O'Donnell
NEW YORK Jan 1 Authorities in a suburban county
north of New York City said on Tuesday they would refuse to
release names of local gun permit holders to a newspaper that
has been publishing the identities of thousands of
Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant said he would defy a
request for information about pistol permit holders from the
White Plains, New York-based Journal News, which has come under
criticism for publishing thousands of such identities already.
"There is the rule of law, and there is right and wrong and
the Journal News is clearly wrong," Sant said in a statement. "I
could not live with myself if one Putnam pistol permit holder
was put in harm's way, for the sole purpose of selling
The Journal News first published a map listing thousands of
pistol permit-holders in Westchester and Rockland counties, just
north of New York City, on Dec. 24. Both counties provided the
information after the newspaper, which is owned by Gannett Co
, submitted a request under the Freedom of Information
The newspaper's editors said they sought the information
after the Dec. 14 shooting deaths of 26 children and adults at
an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, which has sparked
a national debate about gun control.
"We believe the law is clear that this is public information
and the residents of Putnam County are entitled to see it,"
Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media
Group, said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We're troubled that county officials have apparently
switched their position since we first requested the
information," Hasson said.
State gun-owner groups have called for an advertising
boycott of the newspaper until it takes the map and identities
off its website.
Putnam County officials had said they were compiling the
names for the newspaper, but said on Tuesday they would not
deliver the information.
The county clerk said he had received hundreds of phone
calls urging him not to give the information to the paper.
The clerk, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and other
elected officials were scheduled to appear on Thursday at a news
conference declaring their intentions. Also set to appear is
Republican state Senator Greg Ball, who has said he will
introduce legislation to keep permit information private except
to prosecutors and police.
A similar bill he introduced earlier as an assemblyman
failed in the state Assembly.
In the original article, the newspaper cited Robert Freeman,
executive director of the state's Committee on Open Government,
as saying he believed that not only should the names and
addresses be public, but other information such as the types or
numbers of guns someone owns.
Freeman told the newspaper that government records were
presumed public unless their release was specifically barred by
The newspaper's editor and publisher have said they expected
the publication of the information to be controversial.
"But we felt sharing information about gun permits in our
area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings,"
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb, David Gregorio and Peter Cooney)