February 5th, 2008 02:26 AM
The Post-Star addresses pistol permit controversy
To our readers,
We here at The Post-Star find ourselves in the unusual position of responding to the concerns of our readers about something that has not even been published in our newspaper or Web site.
In the past week, the amount of e-mails and general conversation in the community -- and in some cases around the state -- has reached such a pitch that we felt it was in everyone's best interest to address the concerns directly.
About a month ago one of our reporters submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) 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.
This immediately drew great concern from members of gun clubs and people with gun permits in general, a concern we totally understand.
FOIL requests are a regular part of the reporting process, especially when government bodies are reluctant to give up public information to which any citizen is entitled. It is the law of the land.
In this case, just filing the FOIL request seems to have touched a nerve.
We want to assure our readers that this newspaper takes its community service responsibility seriously when it comes to sensitive and private information. We always have and we always will.
Many have contacted us wanting to know what we are going to do with this information and why we wanted it.
We listened to those concerns and want to assure each and every person that we would never, ever do anything to endanger private citizens or make information conveniently available that might lead to a safety concern.
We also explained that we're in the process of gathering information for news stories, and that depending on what the FOIL request revealed, these stories could go in many different directions.
One potential story that could come out of this is finding out whether there is a database of convicted felons. We would run that database through the gun permit database in each county to find out if there are people who shouldn't have guns. This is a somewhat new development in journalism called computer assisted reporting. We think it would be an important story if it turned out that convicted felons showed up with gun permits. But we can't do that story without the gun permit database.
We have served communities in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties for more than 100 years. 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.
We also expect our government leaders to enforce the laws they were elected to uphold. We will continue to hold them to that standard, especially when it comes to the Freedom of Information Law.
We hope that our readers will support us in these endeavors, and we promise that we will continue to do our jobs responsibly and only for the greater good of the community.
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