Weeks after The Journal News made the controversial decision to publish the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties, a celebrity and entertainment website has released the names of people licensed to own a gun in New York City.
Gawker reporter John Cook said he’s had the 446-page list of names from the NYPD sitting in a file cabinet for more than two years. And he said the names and addresses of pistol permit holders statewide have been floating around online for that same amount of time if anyone knew where to look.
Cook said he decided to release the information after Putnam County made news when it decided to keep its pistol permit holders a secret, after The Journal News requested the information. According to state law, the names and addresses of gun permit holders are public information.
“The state legislature decided that they wanted New Yorkers to be able to know who had guns in their community. And you can argue about the policy implications of that, whether that’s good or bad. It is a fact,” Cook said. “I had this list and in order to sort of make the point that Putnam County is violating the law, I wanted to sort of let people know this information is available and it’s out there.”
The information release as officials across the country are debating new gun control measures in the wake of the mass shooting of 20 first-graders and six adults in Newtown, Conn., last month.
It was shortly after the Newtown shooting that The Journal News published the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester and mapped their locations. That decision prompted outrage from gun advocates and threats to the newspaper and its reporters.
Conservative pundits decried the newspaper’s decision. According to the Gawker article Ann Coulter said that she wanted to see a list of gun permit owners in Manhattan to know how many “rich liberals” were on the list.
“You're in luck, Ann. I happened to have just such a list in my filing cabinet. Here it is,” Gawker reporter John Cook wrote in his article releasing the New York City names.
Cook wrote that he got the list two-and-a-half years ago through a Freedom of Information Law request to the New York Police Department.
State law is clear, the names and addresses of gun permit holders are public record. Despite that provision, Cook wrote that the New York Police Department refused to release addresses and only gave the names.
As WNYC reported earlier, the state police do keep a database of all pistol permit holders in the state. The Gawker post includes a link to a 2010 list of permit holders from that database, which includes both names and addresses.
The Gawker article was posted at 3:10 p.m. Little more than an hour later and it had already generated 171 comments.