New York Corrections Officers’ Families Placed at Risk after Newspaper Publishes Pistol Permit Holders’ Addresses

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by Sharon Rondeau

Westchester County is an affluent suburb of New York City, where many residents commute during the work week

(Jan. 7, 2013) — In New York State, the names and addresses of all pistol permit holders are considered public record.  On December 22. 2012, a Westchester County newspaper published a map identifying the addresses of all permit holders in Westchester and Rockland Counties after obtaining them through an open records request.

The Journal News has been asked by state legislators of both parties to retract the publication, but the newspaper, which is owned by the Gannett Company, has refused.  Putnam County did not immediately have the information available and later refused to release it to the newspaper, which also showed those with permits registered in the two New York counties who reside in Connecticut.  There were no apparent New York-registered pistol permit holders in Newtown, CT, where on December 14, 2012, a reportedly mentally-ill armed man entered an elementary school and murdered six school personnel and 20 first-graders.

New York corrections officers, who belong to a union, are now reportedly being “taunted” by inmates saying, they now “know the guards’ home addresses.”  The list included names of retired and active police officers.

Aron Wieder, a District 13 Rockland County Democrat legislator, attended a press conference on the issue, showing “a check and completed pistol permit application” and citing safety concerns for his family because he had not previously possessed a permit or a firearm.

While New York appears to be seeking to change its law to make gun permit information private, Connecticut is seeking to overturn a 20-year-old law so that the information can be released. Rep. Stephen Dargan of West Haven, who describes himself as a “middle-of-the-road guy,” introduced a bill intended to reverse a 1994 law which consented to make pistol permit holders’ names and addresses exempt from open records requests.  Dargan’s proposal is supported by state Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney.

While Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has not addressed changing that specific law, he advocates “a federal framework in which we limit really the explosive nature of the weapons and ammunition that’s used,” apparently viewing the state’s assault weapons ban and strict gun laws as insufficient.  It is currently legal to purchase a rifle in Connecticut without a permit.  A handgun cannot be given to a person under 21.  Adam Lanza was reportedly 20 years old, and it has been reported that despite emotional instability, perhaps due to Asperger’s syndrome, he was left alone for three days prior to the attack.  An article detailing the divorce agreement between Lanza’s parents reported that Nancy Lanza “didn’t like to leave him alone.”

Federal law mandates that public education be provided to all handicapped children through the age of 21.  Whether or not Lanza had been taking medication for his condition has not been confirmed.

In the wake of Sandy Hook, various organizations are petitioning Congress to take action on enacting stricter gun control.  But would that have stopped Adam Lanza?  Did the media seize on an opportunity to focus on Nancy Lanza’s reported “fascination with guns?”

The Second Amendment states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  In colonial times, the settlement of New Amsterdam, NY required “all men” to have a musket and ammunition in good working order in the event of an emergency so that the community could be adequately defended.

In colonial Massachusetts, all “able bodied men” became part of a militia containing several divisions tasked with different responsibilities. While originally swearing to defend King George III, the original “minit men” became soldiers in the American Revolution for independence from Great Britain.  Militia members “came from all walks of life and different ethnic groups” and included laborers and wealthier men with property.

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