Gun Laws & Legislation

NY newspaper’s gun permit disclosure leads to burglary, new legislation

David Martosko Executive Editor
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A home burglary in White Plains, N.Y. that appears related to a newspaper’s recent publication of gun-permit holders will bring a legislative response Monday, in the form of a new bill aimed at banning similar public disclosures in the future.

Newsday reported Sunday that burglars broke into a 70-year-old man’s home intending to steal his gun safe. The resident, and his address, were among 44,000 disclosures of lawful firearm permits that the Journal News, a Westchester County, N.Y. newspaper, published on Dec. 24.

Republican state Sen. Greg Ball has been critical of the newspaper’s decision to release the information on the heels of the Dec. 14 Connecticut school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead.

Ball introduced two bills in the New York State Senate on Jan. 11 in response to the Journal News’ controversial move. One, S2132, would exempt “the disclosure, under the freedom of information law, of the name of any person issued a license to carry or possess a firearm.”

The other, S2131, would specifically place out of reach “the name of any police officer, peace officer, correction officer, or retired police officer, peace officer or correction officer issued a license to carry or possess a firearm.”

The special status for law enforcement officers is thought to be needed because both active duty and retired officers may live across state lines in Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Massachusetts.

“The Journal News has placed the lives of these folks at risk by creating a virtual shopping list for criminals and nut jobs,” Ball said in a statement Sunday.

If the White Plains burglars did indeed target their victim because the newspaper led them to believe an elderly man lived there with valuable firearms, he added, “this is further proof that these maps are not only an invasion of privacy but that they present a clear and present danger to law-abiding, private citizens.”

“Former convicts have already testified to the usefulness of the asinine Journal News ‘gun maps’ yet the reckless editors are evidently willing to roll the dice, gambling with the lives of innocent local homeowners.”

A press release from Ball’s office said he would be publicly unveiling three pieces of legislation Monday, including S2131, S2132 and an unspecified third bill.

“These bills are critical to keep folks safe and fundamentally protect their inherent right to privacy,” he said.

Robert Buckley, the vice president of the Affiliated Police Association of Westchester County, added in a letter that his organization was “putting The Journal News on notice that we will hold [them] accountable for any incident where any of our over 25,000 members are involved with an incident where a criminal or ex-con presents themselves at the residence of one of our members as a result of their name being made public by [their] newspaper.”

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David Martosko