A law seeking to criminalize the release of any information about concealed handgun permit holders was advanced in the Senate on Tuesday.
Although current state law says that information is not public record, the proposed measure would make it a misdemeanor with other penalties to divulge such information. The only exception would be if a court order was issued requiring its release.
Proponents of the bill, which was filed in response to a newspaper in White Plains, NY, last year publishing the names and addresses of gun permit holders in their area, say it will protect people from being outed as gun owners or, on the flip-side, not gun owners.
But Sr. Editor of The Advocate Carl Redman told the Senate Judiciary Committee the move is a form of government censorship.
"The other side of the argument is the value of the first amendment," said Redman. "You may not like what we put in the paper all the time but isn't that part of what our role is in a free society? And I would maintain that that is such an essential role that we shouldn’t put limits on it."
Republican Sen. Jonathan Perry responded:
"In recent, in very recent history, the way that this country has gone, I’ll tell you right now I’ll protect my Second Amendment before I protect my First Amendment," said Perry.
The measure, which has already been through the House, now heads to the full Senate floor for debate.