Wednesday, February 06, 2008

N.Y. paper defends request for gun-permit list

The Glens Falls Post-Star is at the center of controversy — all about something that has not even run in its pages or on its Web site. Ken Tingley, the editor of the 32,000-circulation daily in upstate New York, wrote to readers this week to explain the situation, which was turning into a fight between gun owners and the paper.

Tingley writes that a month ago, a reporter filed an open-records request "to the county clerks in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties asking for the names and towns of residence of all gun permit holders in their counties." He explains the concerned response of gun owners, especially those who want to know what the paper was planning to do with that information. He emphasizes that the paper would do nothing "to endanger private citizens or make information conveniently available that might lead to a safety concern." The purpose of the request was to aid in computer-assisted reporting. One of the possible stories to come out of the research would be to cross-reference a database of convicted felons with the database of gun permit holders to see if there were any felons who had guns who shouldn't.

Tingley wrote, "We consider this newspaper an institution that is an important part of each and every community as a news source, a watchdog of government and an entity that seeks to serve our readers and make our communities better." Since being published online Feb. 4, the column has received more than 50 reader comments, with a fairly even split between those for and against the permit request. (Read more)

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