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Guards at paper posting gun-permit holders

Jan. 3, 2013 at 3:30 AM   |   Comments

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A New York newspaper that drew nationwide anger after publishing gun-permit holders' names and addresses is now protected by armed guards, the publisher said.

The increased security at The Journal News, which covers the lower Hudson Valley just north of New York City, comes as the newspaper promised to forge ahead with plans to expand its interactive map of pistol-permit holders to include a third county.

It also comes amid a several-hour scare at the newspaper's White Plains office when an envelope containing a suspicious white powder arrived in the mail.

Local officials said they determined the substance in the envelope was not a threat.

The Gannett Co. newspaper published an article Dec. 23 titled "The Gun Owner Next Door: What You Don't Know About the Weapons in Your Neighborhood" after the mass school shooting in nearby Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six adult staffers dead.

The article was accompanied online by an interactive map showing a database of pistol-permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties (tinyurl.com/agvla2p).

The newspaper has been criticized for publishing the data, which it obtained legally through the state's Freedom of Information Law.

Others said they felt the report shed light on the presence of legally permitted guns in their communities.

Officials in Putnam County, the third county whose pistol-permit holders the newspaper wants to publish, said they would hold a noon EST Thursday news conference announcing their refusal to release the records.

Republican State Sen. Greg Ball, whose district is in Putnam County, told Fox News Channel Wednesday he would be at the news conference and urged local readers to "cancel their [Journal News] subscriptions."

He cited a hypothetical domestic-violence victim who filed for a pistol permit for self-protection.

"Now that nutjob can show up at your door, courtesy of the Journal News," Ball, a former U.S. Air Force lieutenant, said, adding the list publication "has backfired in their face."

"Now a robber has a Christmas shopping list," he told Fox News.

Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto, a member of the newspaper's editorial board, wrote he did "not begrudge The Journal News for exercising its Second Amendment right to armed self-defense. But doing so after attacking law-abiding citizens for doing exactly the same thing is the most stunning display of media hypocrisy we've seen since the 'civility' frenzy of early 2011."

Rockland County legislators plan to hold a news conference Friday to announce a resolution condemning publication of the gun information.

Robert Freeman, executive director of the state government's Committee on Open Government, said Putnam officials would be breaking the law if they refused to release the records.

"The name and address of any gun licensee are public," he told The Journal News.

"In my opinion, there is not a lot of room for interpretation," he added to The New York Times.

Freeman said the newspaper could appeal the denial, first to the county government and then, if necessary, to a judge.

He cited a precedent in which The Wall Street Journal asked New York City officials to turn over gun data. The request was denied and the state's highest court later ruled in favor of the Journal, he said.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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