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Putnam Denies Media Request for Gun Info

One source says the information has been considered public since at least 1965.

Led by State Sen. Greg Ball, Putnam officials are announcing that they will withhold records documenting the names and addresses of residents who possess pistol permits.

What some officials consider "standing up" for Putnam residents is a move that violates the law—and could lead to a court battle—according to Robert Freeman, executive director for the state Committee on Open Government.

The Journal News, a Gannett newspaper, had filed a request for the information. 

The shooting that left 26 dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School had reignited the national discussion on gun control and gun laws. The Journal News ignited a separate firestorm Dec. 22 when it published, as it had in 2006, a database report of gun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. 

Since then, county leaders have received "hundreds of calls from Putnam residents" urging them "not to release these records," County Clerk Dennis Sant is quoted as saying in a statement given to Patch by Ball's office.

Ball is scheduled to hold a press conference Thursday with County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Sant "to announce that Putnam County will not be releasing the records of Putnam pistol permits to the Journal News."

This story, by John W. Barry of the Poughkeepsie Journal, appearing on LoHud.com, states that Putnam officials said in December they were compiling the data. 

Neither Odell nor Sant were available for comment the morning of Jan. 2.

Freeman has heard from big-name news agencies such as the Today Show inquiring about this situation, and whether the law leaves any room for interpretation. He said he had not been in touch with any Putnam officials. 

"My hope is, of course, that someone will actually look at the law instead of being a renegade unit of government," Freeman said, adding that names and addresses of gun permit holders have been considered public record since at least 1965.

According to Ball, the map The Journal News posted was unethical—and "every person with common sense should be offended."

“I’m proud to stand with Putnam County and proud that Putnam won’t be releasing its pistol permit records," he said in a statement. "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."

Ball blogged about the issue on Patch Dec. 26.

Freeman said the law is just like any other, one that may be unpopular, like speed limits, but should be followed. To him, that's the "essence of civilized society"—following laws, "whether you like them or not."

"If we don’t like a particular law, what do we do? We make our case to our elected representativess and might engage in efforts to change the law," he said. "It seems to me that, unless that happens, we have to comply."

Yet here, he said, "You have a state senator saying 'I don't care what the law says.' Is that the best of role models?"

Once a request for records under the Freedom of Information Law has been denied, the applicant may appeal the decision with the head of the agency. If that request is also shot down, the matter could go to court. 

It's not uncommon for government agencies to go against the law and deny such requests, Freeman told Patch. In fact, it "happens every day." But more often, the opposite happens.

"Government agencies disclose every day over and over and over again," he said."But there are occasions when, at least in my view, government agencies may fail to comply with the law."

In the statement released by Ball's office, Sant said he's protecting "the law-abiding gun owners here in Putnam County." 

“There is the rule of law, and there is right and wrong and The Journal News is clearly wrong," he said. "I could not live with myself if one Putnam pistol permit holder was put in harm’s way, for the sole purpose of selling newspapers."

The shooting that left 26 dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School reignited the national discussion on gun control and gun laws. The Journal News ignited a separate firestorm when it published, as it had in 2006, a database report of gun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. 

JJ January 02, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Good points.
Bob Zahm January 02, 2013 at 10:18 PM
@ JJ – I see no issue with making all data controlled by the government publicly available. That includes tax filings, permit filings, aid requests, etc. If we’re dumb enough to let the government collect such data (and provide such programs), then we have a right to it. Making it publicly available would help with abusers of the associated systems – whether they’re playing around with their taxes or applying for food stamps. Stop aiming at the messenger. Go after the problem which is the government. Your other items– I attend a Presbyterian church, but am not a member; last night for dinner we did take away in Rye; tonight we’ll eat in – are not tied to a government program and so should be made public only if I wish to release them. Including them in your list is a simplistic attempt at extending the emotional appeal of your argument. If you think people aren’t looking into your private data, you’re naïve. Of course, people look into your life when they have a reason to; you pissed off a neighbor; you flashed a lot of cash; you were careless in the websites you visited; you’re publicly visible because of your comments on websites or because of public office you hold; etc. Putnam County should be forced to release the data requested. By withholding it, they are breaking the law. And if they’re allowed to do so for this instance, the next time you want to check on spending of a particular politician, you may also get an illegal ‘Nope’.
Full Truth January 02, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Perhaps they can post an interactive map of smokers. I don't want my kids playing where there is second hand smoke and matches. Boycott the Journal News and its advertisers.
Gannicus January 02, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Thank you Sen. Greg Ball! That's why I voted for you. You don't take BS or back down from these liberals who " won't let a crisis go to waste " by furthering their agenda against our 2nd Amendment and attacking law abiding citizens who's only crime was legally obtaining firearms. Shame on you Jounal News!!! Why won't The Jounal News post about the strictest gun laws which are ineffect in Washington D.C. and Chicago? These two cities have the higest gun crimes in our nation. A ban of firearms is not the soulution...at least admit to that. Gun bans DO NOT WORK!!! Boycott The Journal News!!!! P.S. And a big thanks to Odell and Sant as well!
JJ January 03, 2013 at 12:17 AM
@Bob Zahm..........once again good points. "Simplistic" ? You left out your Whiz Bang Consulting LLC, Rye, NY, your tenure on the Rye Board of Education, your MyRye.Com etc. etc. etc. See we don't need to know that but it's on the "net"; my point is that there are some things we DO NOT need to know. My "naivete" has taken me to places in the world that you've ONLY read about. But then again you don't need to know that......do you? You're safe in the mythical kingdom of Rye some of us don't have it so good.
Bob Zahm January 03, 2013 at 12:33 AM
@JJ - I omitted nothing that was relevant to my point. Your short google search actually buttresses my position. You can see those things because I have sufficient confidence in the logic of my positions and the civility of my posts that I choose not to hide behind a made-up screen name. Thus, I find it ironic, humorous, and mildly entertaining that the people who feel threatened by the release of data held by the government are unwilling to use their real names in public. You are a case in point. Putnam County’s violation of law must be fought. If their releasing of information about the ownership of gun permits offends you, then do something about the laws. Attacking the Journal News for doing their jobs is a waste of your (and Mr. Ball’s) time. Fix the problem. Focus on the actual collection of data necessitated by the breadth of governmental “services”.
JJ January 03, 2013 at 12:41 AM
@Bob Zahm- This is my REAL name. Unlike you, I'm not a community butterfly and I don't need to have my name in lights. Lets' just say I don't long for a spotlight and believe in privacy. That happens when you have a real job and have to work for a living. I do enjoy your comments.
BooBees January 03, 2013 at 01:02 AM
The county could have redacted the names of the homeowners. Or even the names and the numbers of the street addresses. I believe they would have had every right to do that in releasing the information. And that would have satisfied all causes. If there is fault, it lies with the county, or the person who decided not to redact the information.
SRT January 03, 2013 at 05:26 AM
Gannicus, So let me get this straight. Greg Ball as a NY Senator has taken an oath to uphold the laws of NY. Under NY Freedom of Information Law these records must be made available to anyone who requests them. Greg Ball is condoning Putnam County officials breaking the law? He should be thrown out of office on his ear. What ever happened to all that right wing talk about "We are a country of laws not men," What a bunch of hypocrites!
Laura January 03, 2013 at 01:56 PM
As a legally obtained gun permit owner... I say shame on the Journal News. I stopped buying your newspaper last week when the first release for Westchester & Rockland counties came out. You need this to sell your papers......Instead hire real reporters to report news. Or is it that you were recently purchased by the National Enquirer to report trash. Do you as my neighbor want to know I have a gun to protect myself and the burglar knows he should go to your house instead.... because you do not have a gun to protect your property.
Gannicus January 03, 2013 at 03:03 PM
SRT, Hypocrites you say!!! You don't have to look any further then those running this country. Lies, after lies, after lies...And these zombies still vote them into power! Are you familar with " Fast and Furious. " Our elected officials chose to do nothing about prosecuting their own. Why you ask? Because of their own agendas...they want to abolish the secound amendment. Do your homework!!
Susan Riley January 03, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Although I'm not in favor of publishing this personal information, I can't believe that Ball is blatantly saying he will not follow the law. How can an elected official do this and still remain in office? What is the matter with him? Just because he's a hunter <shudder....that's another thing.....people who like killing animals are very frightening to me> he thinks that he's above the law?????? Ball should be removed from office if he will not comply with the law.
Joe Debono January 03, 2013 at 03:21 PM
This story demonstrates a number of things. 1) Gun owners don't understand that the firearm ownership info. is public information. 2) They get irrationally angry about the papers doing their job and relaying public information to the public. 3) It apparently doesn't occur to them to advocate for changing the law. 4) Many of them are quick to threaten the papers and their staff with grave bodily harm for legally doing their job, so much so that the papers had to hire armed guards because of all the threats. Given these facts is it any wonder that some people question the culture of fear, ignorance and hate that drives gun ownership to incredible levels in the USA?
Please! January 03, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Ball is the epitome of Napoleon Syndrome. Small man with small organs who needs to carry a big gun that he feels compensates for his shortcomings. The fear, shame and ignorance that fuels these gun owners to hide what they possess speaks loud and clear. If you're so ashamed of being a gun owner, why are you one in the first place. Makes you feel like a real man, right?
Full Truth January 03, 2013 at 05:18 PM
SRT what's your real name and address? My friends and I want to come over to your house to see what you have inside. Why not take the lock off your door? Senator Ball has not broken the law, he is doing his job to protect the rights of ALL citizens including you.
Billy January 03, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Truth, don't waste your time & energy on SRT. He's/she's known to be left of the left which is perfect for a place like NY, but I beleive census figures are confirming that people are leaving NY In droves.
notbob January 03, 2013 at 05:49 PM
I guess with a name like Rod complaining about a man named Ball is pretty revealing about your particular issues.
GAD 57 January 03, 2013 at 07:46 PM
I agree it list 48.8% of its readers since 2005 and this is the reason why and they just lost one more!
GAD 57 January 03, 2013 at 07:50 PM
Ball has balls and you liberals are SCARED OF GUNS BECAUSE THAT THE ONLY THING STANDING BETWEEN US AND A TRUE ATLAS SHRUGGED SOCIETY,
GAD 57 January 03, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Now one is hiding we are gun owners but Westchester in its wisdom very rarely issues full carry and usual issues hunting/target permits. This means we are vulnerable to push in robbery for our guns, as well as putting our families at risk. This was done for what to sell papers? Wouldn't you rather know that a sex offender lived next to you than a legal gun owner? Also, believe me Rod I do not need a gun to feel like a man, and you seem preoccupied with what is in a man;s pants if you ask me.
tedc January 03, 2013 at 07:56 PM
JJ - in Rye we have some very serious FOIL lawbreaking in progress and what the Journal News did using FOIL laws here was very wrong and damaging to the general population but successful in demonstrating that FOIL laws can be used contrary to public safety. Bob knows all about this and believe he wants the FOIL laws protected because we in Rye need them - not for abuse like the JN but in exposing critical public information responsibly. http://www.lausdeo10580.com/lausdeo10580/2012/08/ny-state-official-confirms-city-of-rye-attorney-kristen-wilson-acting-in-violation-of-law.html
GAD 57 January 03, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Rod has a thing for balls I guess?
SRT January 04, 2013 at 04:28 AM
Gannicus - If you would like to address anything I said I would be happy to respond. And yes, it is the definition of hypocrisy to take a oath to uphold the law and then encourage county officials to violate it. If Putnam County doesn't walk this ridiculousness back and Gannet appeals t it will be a slam dunk win for them. Full truth - I did not say that Ball is breaking the law, I said he was encouraging others to. Not a good trait for an elected official. Billy - Clueless
Gannicus January 04, 2013 at 04:13 PM
SRT, Your the typical left wing liberal, talking out of both sides of your mouth. I asked you if you were familiar with " Fast and Furious " and not the movie!! And what is our highest office in our nation doing? Hypocrisy, Hypocrisy, Hypocrisy!!!
SRT January 04, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Gannicus, I am familiar with Fast and Furious, but this is a discussion about a State Senator condoning County officials breaking the law. Please try and stay on topic, as far as I know this has nothing to do with Fand F. If you want to try and explain a connection feel free.
Level Headed January 05, 2013 at 12:50 AM
What everyone is forgetting is that when a FOIL request is made there is a paper trail of who asked for said information. When the P.O.S. newspaper released all that information they "broke the dam" and now there will be no "lead" when someone is targeted based on that knowledge that was released. Some may be targeted because they don't own guns. Some will be targeted "for their guns", those are the hands we don't want on our weapons. A professional "crew" that wants guns now have their work cut out for them.
FJT January 05, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Former burglars and other former criminals have commented on the absurdity of what the Journal News did. This new article is well worth reading. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/01/04/ex-burglars-say-newspapers-gun-map-wouldve-made-job-easier-safer/?intcmp=trending
FJT January 05, 2013 at 04:41 PM
How ironic the Journal News has hired armed guards. I thought they were against guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens. I guess the J-N people are very special people who deserve the protection guns afford, but ordinary people can't have such weapons for protection. Hypocrites. If they were intellectually honest, they'd put up signs declaring their property a gun-free zone and forbid any guns on their property -- just like the public schools. Or the J-N could construct "safe rooms" for their employees to cower in until the armed local police arrive. But no, the J-N wants to sit safely in an armed camp while they villify law-abiding gun owners. So far, no one from the Journal News has had the courage to return calls from News 12 Westchester (and other news media) about the hypocrisy of their actions.
Francis T McVetty January 05, 2013 at 09:10 PM
@ Joe Debono, and this happened when ? [Many of them are quick to threaten the papers and their staff with grave bodily harm for legally doing their job, so much so that the papers had to hire armed guards because of all the threats]
Francis T McVetty January 05, 2013 at 09:23 PM
It seems that the writer of the article lives in Queens new York and has a pistol license. I would like to know just how he got a license. Getting a pistol license in New York City is nearly impossible with all the hoops you must go through. maybe some favoritism involved? Just saying.

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