By Peter Rudegeair
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York-area politicians denounced on Friday a local newspaper that has revealed the names and addresses of thousands of holders of gun permits, and they asked state legislators to make such information confidential.
The decision by the Journal News, which serves the suburbs just north of New York City in Westchester and Rockland counties, to publish the identities was "deplorable" and "reckless," Rockland County legislator Frank Sparaco told a news conference, adding that it "has posed a serious threat to the residents of Rockland."
Inmates in local prisons have approached guards to say they know their home addresses, Rockland County Sheriff Lou Falco told the news conference.
The newspaper, which is owned by the Gannett Co, published a map with the names and addresses of permit-holders in Westchester and Rockland counties on December 24. It did so in the aftermath of the December 14 massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The publication created an uproar among gun enthusiasts, and the Journal News felt threatened enough by the outcry over the map to hire a private security company to protect its employees. Even so, the newspaper on December 29 said it would publish even more names, this time for New York's Putnam County.
New York Assemblyman William Magee told Reuters he planned to re-introduce a bill originally proposed last February that would make confidential the collective lists of gun permit-holders in given areas except to law enforcement agencies. Members of the public would still be able to request the personal information of individual gun owners under the bill.
State gun-owner groups have called for an advertising boycott of the newspaper until it takes the map and identities off its website.
The newspaper sought the information on permit holders under New York State's Freedom of Information law. It says the identities were a matter of public record.
Calls to the newspaper on Friday were not immediately returned. Officials at Gannett also could not be immediately reached for comment.
Officials also pressed the newspaper to remove its online map.
"I don't want to just request — I want to demand — that the Journal News get those names, and that map, off that website," Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato said.
(Additional reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Leslie Adler)