(AP) The Journal News has sued Putnam County to compel it to release its pistol permit records.
The Journal News says it sued Thursday after the county denied two Freedom of Information requests and a subsequent appeal.
The newspaper first requested information from Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties following the Newtown, Conn., shooting massacre. It made another request after the state passed a gun control law allowing permit holders to apply to keep their names and addresses private.
Putnam County officials declined to comment on the lawsuit because they had not yet been served with the papers. But County Executive MaryEllen Odell told the newspaper she’s confident the county will prevail.
Westchester and Rockland counties provided the information to the newspaper, which published a clickable map on its website identifying residents there with handgun permits.
Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant said state law offered him “discretion to deem whether information is going to put my citizens in harm’s way.”
“The Journal News believes that Putnam County should turn over the records that the law clearly says belong to the public,” explained Janet Hasson, Journal News president and publisher. “The data is essential for our journalists to do their jobs. For example, we need to be able to investigate whether guns involved in crimes are legally or illegally owned. ”
Hasson said the Journal News would not be making another map of gun owner information.
The Journal News reported that officials told them 15,700 of 31,900 active permit holders in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam filled out exemption forms offered by the state to prevent their permit data from being made public.