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McKinstry: Journal News gun registry fiasco hurts journalism, Andrew Cuomo's poll numbers

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks in

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany. (Jan. 7, 2013) Credit: AP

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is showing a few blemishes after the state’s recent passage of new gun control laws.

More than 100,000 people have signed online petitions against New York’s newly enacted gun control laws and some people have publicly vowed to ignore aspects of it like registering assault weapons. Groups such as the New York State Rifle and Pistol Associations plan to sue and want the law overturned.

Even Cuomo’s numbers are taking a hit. A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows his approval rating fell from 74 percent to 59 percent, a relatively new low for Cuomo.

While Cuomo’s numbers are still strong and he has defended the quick passage of the laws, he’s also expressed openness to amending aspects of the gun law.

Cuomo and lawmakers should reconsider new restrictions placed on permit information that were once public. In addition to passing a ban on assault weapons, the law no longer allows the names and addresses to be requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

That might be a tough sell, especially after the uproar and backlash following The Journal News publishing an online map of gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties. Further complicating that might be that so much of the data was wrong: A published report by the paper showed that of the 16,998 records in Rockland County, only 3,907 were up-to-date.

Some of those records date back to the 1930s and are considered “historic." The records included people who died, moved or no longer had their guns, mostly because the county doesn’t require that permits periodically be updated.

Clearly there was an error in judgment in publishing certain information, but over the long run lawmakers may find so too was restricting public information. 

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