What will they do with the info?
BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
The Rockland County Times has confirmed that the Journal News daily newspaper has requested from Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties a complete list of gun owners who did not file “opt out” papers exempting themselves from pistol permit public records.
Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato said he is currently going through some procedural steps before releasing the data. He noted that Westchester has likely already delivered the information to the Journal News and Putnam County will most likely resist giving the information, just as they had last time. Piperato said he expects Putnam to take the case to court and lose.
If Putnam loses, Piperato said he will he have no choice but to provide the Journal News the data, in keeping with state law.
Asked if he’s worried about potential election year consequences for his compliance with the Journal News twice in six months, Piperato said if he was worried about political fallout, he would not have provided the information the first time. Ultimately, the law is the law, said Piperato.
His Republican opponent for county clerk, Donna Held, may choose to exploit the issue during the upcoming election.
It is not clear for what purpose the Journal News will use the information. Clerk Piperato said the Journal News editor who filed the request told him the newspaper does not intend to publish the names and addresses of gun owners again like they infamously did in December 2012.
Following the fallout from the Journal News’ decision to publish the gun-map of all pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties (Putnam did not comply with the request), New York State passed as part of the NY SAFE Act, a rule creating a temporary seal on all permit information and an opportunity for pistol permit holders to opt for privacy by a May 15 deadline.
The result has been a lot of paperwork that’s cost taxpayers an unknown amount in labor costs. Under the NY SAFE Act, county clerks must also provide the NY State Police with a registry of permit holders, creating further paperwork that the state estimated would cost many millions per year.
Piperato and other county clerks unanimously want the state to just make the permits uniformly private and not require an opt-out form.
It is worth noting, if the Journal News compared the list of names of gun owners who did not opt out with last year’s complete files, they could deduce the gun owners who opted out to a high degree of accuracy, thus rendering the law impotent.