A bill that would prohibit the public release of names of gun permit holders has been introduced in the State Assembly.
Sponsored by Assemblymen Dave Rible and Ron Dancer, both R-Monmouth and Ocean, the bill seeks to restrict public access to the names and addresses of gun permit holders under the state’s Open Public Records law.
Rible previously has said he was opposed to the release of such information because it could prove potentially dangerous to law-abiding citizens, such as law enforcement officers.
The bill, A-3788, was introduced this week. It has not yet received a committee assignment.
“Disseminating personal information about those who have gun permits puts law enforcement officers and law-abiding citizens in harm’s way,” Rible said in a release.
The bill is in reaction to the recent publication of gun permit holders’ names and addresses in a New York newspaper.
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.
Rible has 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 has said. “It doesn’t seem right.”