The top prosecutor in a suburban New York county said Monday that releasing the names and addresses of licensed gun owners is irresponsible because the information is then available to criminals.
Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy announced his support for the county clerk's refusal to release the information to The Journal News, which has filed a Freedom of Information request.
"To disclose the information so it's available to people with criminal intentions is unacceptable and irresponsible," Levy said in an emailed statement.
The newspaper last month published online maps that include the names and addresses of handgun licensees in the other counties it covers, Westchester and Rockland. That prompted some heavy criticism from gun owners nationwide and resulted in threats to the newspaper, including mailings of what turned out to be harmless white powder. Armed guards have been posted at Journal News offices.
Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group, said in a statement emailed Monday, "We take seriously our obligation to serve the residents of Putnam County and will aggressively pursue the community's right of access to public record information."
She said after the Westchester-Rockland maps were published that, "We felt sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings."
The state News Publishers Association and the State Committee on Open Government have supported The Journal News' right to the information.
But Levy said, "This is a public safety issue — not a gun issue." He said disclosing names and addresses of licensed gun owners "endangers the safety and well-being of those citizens along with their neighbors."