Elected officials try to block publication of handgun permits

It’s disturbing that a White Plains, New York newspaper must hire armed security guards to protect its employees against extremists upset that the newspaper published public records of the names and addresses of handgun permit holders. The Journal News, published in a county adjacent to Newtown, Connecticut, site of the school shooting in December, felt it necessary to hire the guards in response to threats over the publication. It’s also a concern that public officials and legislators  including the Putnam County clerk are exploring legal options of blocking the newspaper from obtaining the handgun permit records from their jurisdictions. (The New York Times)

In Maryland a legislator is introducing a law to ban publications from printing “private” information of gun owners in the interests of avoiding scandal and “things that are harmful,” reported Ken Paulson for the First Amendment Center. Paulson said the legislator should be aware that exemptions to the free press are rare for good reason and do not extend to such considerations.

Paulson did say The Journal News might have accomplished more by identifying areas with the highest concentration of gun permits and checked to see if that concentration produced more gun deaths. -db