January 4, 2013
close up of handgun
(Ralph D. Freso / Reuters)

If there’s a movement to prevent media outlets from procuring information about gun permits in New York state, count Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco among its supporters. “I don’t see any upside to everybody knowing that,” says Falco.

The sheriff does his work in one of the two counties for which the Journal News, in a pre-Christmas data dump, published the names and addresses of gun-permit holders. Westchester was the other. Alongside a story about the permits, the Journal News posted interactive maps highlighting the law-abiding gun permitees.

Bad move, says Falco. “It was very, very poor judgment and a poor marketing move on their part to do that,” says the sheriff. “Now criminals can go to houses where guns are or where they know they’re not,” says Falco. “They have your address, your personal home address, and it’s made for a very tense and potentially dangerous situation not only in Rockland County but Westchester County. If it happens around the U.S., it’s going to make for a very tenuous society,” says Falco.

Falco’s people monitor the Internet to root out criminal activity. “As the chief law enforcement officer of Rockland County, I have to prepare for the worst,” says Falco. And that’s why he wants a change authored by Albany. “I do favor a law that prohibits the media from obtaining pistol permits,” he says. What, then, would he tell parents who would like to have the information so that they know whether their kids are playing in armed households? “If the parents have a pistol permit…If they have guns, they’re going to be secure about it or they should be secure about it,” he says.
Since the Journal News published the maps, says Falco, he hasn’t seen “anything that’s been obvious” in terms of changed crime patterns. Last year, he says, burglaries exceeded the 300 mark. “It’s actually up but we don’t attribute it being up to guns,” he says. “We attribute it to the economy.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.