Rockland County Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell on Thursday called upon the Journal News to create a capital campaign to fund proposals for addressing gun violence and school safety. Cornell sent a letter to the newspaper’s publisher and editor suggesting the action would be a way for the newspaper “to regain the confidence lost by scores of Rockland and Westchester residents after publication of a article including a "gun map."
The article's interactive map showed names and addresses of 20,000 pistol permit holders within the two counties. Cornell wrote the campaign could underwrite proposals put forward by the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents to address gun violence and school safety, which included mental health and social services and School Resource Officers.
Cornell described publication of the interactive map as “reckless” although legal and went on to state it may have inadvertently endangered thousands of law-abiding permit holders, including current and former police officers. She wrote the article “encourages the sense that those who have gun licenses somehow pose a threat to their neighbors and their communities.”
Cornell said the action could contribute to school and community safety.
“But you can accomplish something very powerful and positive by creating a capital campaign,” she wrote.
The complete Text of Chairwoman Cornell’s Letter follows.
The Legislature of Rockland County
HARRIET D. CORNELL
January 10, 2013
Janet Hasson, President/Publisher
CynDee Royle, Editor and Vice-President/News.
Westchester Rockland Journal News
1133 Westchester Avenue
White Plains, New York 10604
Dear Ms. Hasson and Ms. Royle:
As the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut unfolded before our eyes, I know
all of Rockland and indeed the entire nation struggled with a meaningful way to address the intense horror and grief that we felt.
The image of young children dying at the hands of a deranged gunman, of educators who gave their lives trying to save them, and of the others who will forever live with the trauma has compelled many of us to consider immediate and bold action to prevent this nightmare from occurring again.
I suspect that all at the Journal News shared this sense of mission and felt an obligation to take action that would help to further the national dialogue about gun violence. However lawful, the result of publication of an interactive map with detailed information about the thousands of Rockland and Westchester residents who legally obtained licenses to own guns was reckless. While it may not have been your intent, the result was a sense that those who have gun licenses somehow pose a threat to their neighbors and their communities.
In addition, this may well have put many individuals and families at risk. Rockland County, in particular, is home to a number of current and former police officers who have worked here, in New York City, and in other neighboring communities. Many of these men and women have gun permits and were included in your published list. In addition, residents who obtained gun permits as a way to protect themselves from harm, possibly from intimate partner abuse, have also been included in your list. By publishing a map that pinpoints the exact name and location of all who have legally obtained gun permits, you may have inadvertently endangered thousands of our residents.
You cannot undo what has been done, but you can accomplish something very powerful and positive by creating a capital campaign that would help to fund some of the proposals put forward by the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents to address gun violence and school safety, as reported in your 12/31/2012 edition. This could include funding for needed mental health and social services and for School Resource Officers. This is an opportunity for the Journal News to regain public confidence and to make a real contribution to school and community safety. I sincerely hope you will choose to do so.
Very truly yours,
Harriet D. Cornell
Chairwoman of the Legislature