Three weeks after The Journal News published a map of all gun-permit holders in Westchester County, the county executive has asked the paper to take it off the internet.
In a letter dated and released to the public today, Rob Astorino said it was time to take the maps down.
"Whatever your purpose in publishing the map, surely three weeks' time was enough to make your point," he wrote. "Constitutional rights—even those protected by the First Amendment—are not absolute. In this case the line has been crossed. The issue is no longer protecting free speech but rather protecting the public, including employees of The Journal News."
Since the daily newspaper published maps Dec. 23 showing the names and addresses of gun-permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties, the paper's staff have been threatened and harassed online, by phone and through the mail.
As officials in Rockland have done since the maps went onto the Internet, Astorino said the maps demonized people—those with legal gun permits—who had done nothing wrong.
In the letter, Astorino said whether the Westchester County Clerk should have complied with the paper's request was "debatable." Putnam County officials denied the request for their records after the paper published the list of permit holders in Westchester and Rockland.
The requests were made under New York state Freedom of Information law; gun permit records have been public records for 50 years. New gun control legislation passed today in Albany limits the public nature of those records.