BY MICHAEL RICONDA
New City – On Tuesday night, in response to the Journal News’ map, the Rockland County Legislature urged the State Legislature to introduce and pass two bills, one amending state penal law to protect the confidentiality of pistol license application information and another condemning the paper for exercising poor judgment in publishing the map. On the same day the state did in fact sign legislation that would make such maps far more difficult to produce in the future.
The first measure aimed at the legislature passed with two votes in opposition by Legislators Nancy Low-Hogan and Joe Meyers, while the second aimed at the Journal News passed by a narrower margin, with four votes by Legislators Harriet Cornell, Michael Grant, Low-Hogan, and Meyers, all of whom who took exception to the strong use of the term “condemnation.”
Though questions were raised by both supporters and opponents on the actual effects of the map and the appropriateness of “condemning” the paper, the Legislature largely expressed disagreement with the Journal News’ actions in putting up and refusing to remove the map.
Cornell stated that she prepared her own letter to submit to the Journal News criticizing their actions and encouraging their support for a capital fund aimed at funding mental health services, but did not believe the legislature should pass bills condemning others.
“I was actually the only person in the public safety committee meeting to vote against this resolution last week,” Cornell stated.
Legislator Ed Day voted for both resolutions, pointing out that not only law enforcement officers were endangered by the map, but also people such as survivors of domestic abuse and others whose personal information could put them at risk.
“I’ve had hundreds of arrests in my career and supervised thousands of criminal investigations,” Day said. “I can assure you that I’ve left some very bad guys very unhappy during the course of my career, and I’m sure that others have, too.”
Day was also one of several legislators who took pains to point out recent incidents brought to light in a press conference with County Sheriff Louis Falco where county prisoners threatened correctional officers by claiming that they knew their home addresses.
In contrast, Low-Hogan stated that she was unconvinced that the map could act as a “road map” for criminals seeking targets, though she did express support for exceptions in the case of risks to health and safety of specific persons such as those impacted by domestic violence.
“I am still not convinced that knowing pistols are in a house would encourage a criminal to go to that house,” Low-Hogan said. “That does not make sense to me.”
In addition to responding to the Journal News, the Legislature passed a resolution aimed at curbing gun-related deaths by reinstating a program which distributes gun locks to county gun owners.
The resolution, which was proposed by Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, was inspired by a previous program enacted in 2001 which handed out trigger locks, specialized devices primarily used to secure handguns.
The new cable locks-which can secure handguns as well as other firearms-were obtained through donations to the county. Legislator Day also announced the possibility of continuing programs similar to the current one with donations from a program known as Project Child Safe.