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Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing the NY SAFE act into law last week.  Journalists say the state over-reacted, by privatizing gun holder permit records.  Photo: Gov. Cuomo's office via Flickr
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing the NY SAFE act into law last week. Journalists say the state over-reacted, by privatizing gun holder permit records. Photo: Gov. Cuomo's office via Flickr

Journalists want NY gun holder records to remain public

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A national journalism organization is calling on New York to restore public access to gun permit records. The names and addresses of people who hold gun permits were considered public information until last week, when the state legislature and Governor Cuomo approved gun control legislation.

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Reported by

Julie Grant
Reporter and Producer

Following the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, the Journal News published an interactive map, showing the names and addresses of all handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland Counties.  The map infuriated many people, who say it violated gun owners right to privacy and security.

In response, the new gun control law requires journalists, and other citizens, to get special permission from local public officials or the courts to access gun permit records. 

"It was, in our judgment, a significant overreaction."

Mike Cavender is executive director of The Radio-Television-Digital News Association. 

"We don't think that it's good policy, that it's good law, to turn private heretofore public records.  For whatever reason."

Cavender says that doesn't mean journalists should publish every public record.

"The publication of those names and addresses has certainly engendered a great deal of debate within our own business, within our own profession - whether it was necessary, whether it was justified, whether it was done in the proper fashion."

But Cavender says that is a separate issue from privatizing public records.

"They really are 2 different things.  And one's in our judgment, frankly, a much larger, potentially all-encompassing issue."

Cavender says the journalists organization is concerned that a precedent is being set.  And they don't want the government to drop a veil over records that the public has always had a right to see.

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