State Assemblyman David Rible says he wants to prevent the public release of handgun permit holders' personal information and plans to introduce a bill that would do just that, according to a release.
Rible (R-Monmouth) said Monday that he plans to introduce a bill barring from the public the names of New Jersey residents who hold a handgun permits after a New York newspaper published the names and addresses of tens of thousands of permit holders about two weeks ago.
The Journal News in White Plains, NY, published the article, “The Gun Owner Next Door: What You Don’t Know About the Weapons in Your Neighborhood,” which published the names and addresses of more than 30,000 handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. The article, which obtained the names and addresses from publicly available documents, also contained a map of the handgun permit holders.
The paper received widespread criticism for the move, and when the outrage became threatening, it hired armed guards to protect its main office and a bureau. Employees who felt unsafe at home were offered hotel rooms, at the paper’s expense.
“I’m very concerned that what I think this does is set up a blueprint for people to find out who has what kinds of guns and where they live,’’ Rible said. “It’s a major public security problem.’’
The Journal News article, it should be noted, published the names and addresses of handgun permit holders. Holding a permit does not necessarily mean each owns a gun.
Rible said he was coordinating with New York state GOP Senator Greg Ball, who has called the Journal News’ move a “nightmare’’ and urged people cancel their subscriptions to the paper. Ball’s office is also crafting legislation barring the publication of gun owners’ information. Rible said he hoped to have a draft bill ready by the end of the week.
“Maybe we can actually have two states on the same page,’’ Rible said.
Rible said that the publication of handgun permit holders could be helpful to criminals looking for guns and could be used as an easy means to track down the home addresses of police, who are among those licensed to carry handguns.
“Making this information available in the newspaper essentially provides a blueprint for criminals looking for guns,” Rible said. “I think that information should be available only to law enforcement.”
Rible compared the availability of gun owners’ information to that of lottery winners.
In December, the Assembly unanimously passed a bill that would allow state lottery winners to keep their identities private for up to one year. The state lottery commission, a state agency, collects the names and addresses of lottery winners, which are considered public records. The bill has not yet been taken up by the Senate.
“It’s okay to win the lottery and remain anonymous, but not for gun owners,’’ Rible said. “It doesn’t seem right.”