The Journal News in White Plains NY says it sued Thursday after the county denied two Freedom of Information requests and a subsequent appeal.
The paper 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 declined comment because it had not yet been served with the papers. But County Executive MaryEllen Odell told the paper she's confident the county will prevail.
Westchester and Rockland provided the information to the paper, and it published a clickable map on its website identifying residents there with handgun permits.
Under the NY Safe Act - the state's new gun control measure adopted in January - gun permit holders could opt out of having their identifying information given out publicly. In order to give permit owners the time to sign up for the privacy measure, the law specified that no information would be given out for 120 days.
Now that the 120 day deadline has passed, the paper is filing for the data, but says it will not identify individual permit holders in the paper or online.
“The Journal News believes that Putnam County should turn over the records that the law clearly says belong to the public,” said Janet Hasson, the paper’s president and publisher, as quoted by her paper . “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. ”
A similar request was filed by the Buffalo News just before the law took effect, and newspaper officials say they have no plans to disclose individual information, but instead were preparing to compile an internal database for use in researching crime and other stories.