The intentions of the Journal News’ editorial board in publishing a highly controversial “interactive gun map” are further occluded by an inconvenient fact.
According to Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato, in Rockland County a large number of the names and addresses on the map are not even correct.
Piperato said, “I’d figure about 25 percent of the addresses are not accurate.”
He explained that when persons change their address or pass away it is supposed to be reported to the County Clerk’s office, but the county has no means to vigorously enforce this regulation. Thus pistol permit and other permit registries are not reliably accurate as a source of addresses in Rockland.
The Journal News editorial board’s justification for the interactive map has been that it shows where potentially dangerous guns are in the neighborhood, yet they have been aware all along that the map is grossly inaccurate. Rockland residents have reported that the information on the gun map is sometimes more than 20 years outdated.
Clerk Lambastes Newspaper
At a press conference Piperato lambasted the Journal News for their publication of the map. He said, “This is no way to sell newspapers. I want to demand the Journal News get that map and that list off their website.”
He noted in 2006 when the Journal News editorial board requested gun permit information he successfully pleaded with them only to publish names and towns, and leave the addresses out of it. This time he had no such luck.
Piperato is also president of the New York State Association of County Clerks. He said in light of the current controversy the clerks of all 62 counties in New York support legislation restricting publication of gun permit registration.
County Clerk Dennis Sant in nearby Putnam has refused to comply with the Journal News’ FOIL request for gun permit holders, citing public safety concerns. Piperato said he shared Sant’s concerns but ultimately decided to follow the letter of the law, as he believes Putnam County will lose in court if state law is not changed.
Journal News Publisher Janet Hasson was emailed and called asking for a response regarding why her paper would publish an interactive map that contained so much outdated information. She did not reply to the Rockland County Times’ queries.
In neighboring Westchester, which is also part of the Journal News’ map, Piperato said updates of permit information occur annually, albeit at considerable expense to taxpayers.