Journal News Gun Map Fallout: Assemblyman Zebrowski (D-New City) sponsors new bill protecting rights of gun-owners

SAFE Act supporter gives a little to local permit holders

BY DYLAN SKRILOFF

When the White Plains-based daily newspaper the Journal News published a list of legal pistol permit holders on an interactive website map back in December 2012, it stirred a local and national hornets’ nest.  Amazingly, fallout continues 15 months later.

The Rockland County Times has learned that liberal Democratic Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) has sponsored a gun rights bill, partially inspired by reaction to the gun map. Zebrowski’s bill (A09084) will allow pistol permit holders to temporarily transfer pistols to another permit holder for up to 30 days.

Zebrowski helps gun owners with newly proposed bill, but most won't be happy until SAFE Act is repealed
Zebrowski helps gun owners with newly proposed bill, but most won’t feel relief until SAFE Act gun control law he supported is repealed

Currently gun owners are not permitted to transfer weapons and as a result must leave their pistols at their own homes when they leave on vacation or go out of town. Activists for the bill include gun owners who remained concerned that their names were on the gun map and thus they might be “cased” by local criminals looking to steal guns.

“Now I can go on vacation in peace and not worry about someone breaking in to steal my guns. I was on the map,” one Rockland County pistol permit holder who wishes to be unnamed told the Rockland County Times. The man claimed that he had talked to Assemblyman Zebrowski many times about the bill.

Following the publication of the Journal News gun map, at least two homes on the map, one in White Plains and one in New City, were burglarized and had guns stolen from the premises. It never was established whether the homes were targeted for their guns. Within two days of the New City home invasion and gun robbery, the Journal News took down the gun map.

The newspaper continues to meddle with gun owner information, recently winning a round in separate lawsuits against Putnam and Rockland County, seeking the release of information pertaining to the identity of local permit holders.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act gun control bill had allowed gun owners to opt out from having their names being made public. The opt-out forms have cost the state and counties millions of dollars, prompting criticism that the governor did not simply make the information private by default.

Though the bill introduced by Zebrowski extends the rights of gun owners, it does require that permit holders file an application with the county clerk before transferring their weapon to another permit holder. If the guns are not picked up after 30 days, the sheriff is legally permitted to take possession of them.

The bill submitted by Zebrowski justifies its action as follows: “This legislation is designed to provide gun owners with a legal way of safely protecting their firearms while they are away from their home either for work or vacation. Currently, there is no legal way to transfer possession of pistols while a permit holder is away. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 2005-10, an average of 172,000 firearms are stolen annually during household burglaries. This statistic is alarming as many of those stolen firearms are used in the commission of crimes.

“This bill safely allows for the temporary transfer of pistols between pistol permit holders. There must be an application filed with the county clerk prior to the transfer and all pistols must be unloaded and safely stored on the premises for the entire transfer period.”

While many gun owners will likely appreciate Zebrowski’s bill, he voted for Cuomo’s SAFE Act and thus is unlikely to win many hearts at the NRA.