Cornell Calls For Creation of School Safety Fund

Rockland legislative chairwoman suggests “Gun Map” publisher launch capital campaign to raise money for safety school improvements


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

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

Richard Kavesh January 11, 2013 at 01:27 PM
I thought that "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," i.e. possessing a gun is a deterrent to becoming a victim of gun violence. At least that's what the NRA says. Why, then, would the people whose names were published feel endangered? Wouldn't they feel more secure knowing that their names were out there and that all the violent criminals who read this list are now more likely than ever to say away from them?
GWashington January 11, 2013 at 02:41 PM
They may have pistol permits but that doesn't mean they have carry licenses. The stalked woman's address which has been confidential is now out there. The stalker can track her comings & goings. She may be able to shoot him in self-defense in her home, but not if he rapes her as she gets in her car or as she is walking to the supermarket. Your snarky remark holds no water. Violent criminals are violent criminals because they have no respect for the law. Laws are not a deterrent for them. Publishing the names of people for whom violent criminals bear a grudge, such as judges, police officers, and corrections officers, places the permit holder in the position of fear at having to defend themselves and perhaps more importantly a family member who may be an innocent target of the violent criminal. Law abiding pistol permit holders, as well as long gun owners are not chomping at the bit to shoot people. They do not wish the potential confrontation that this map has thrust upon them. Your statement proves your lack of knowledge and respect for what guns are for and do.
Charlotte G. Swift January 12, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Because the very intention was to endanger legal gun owners by exposing to criminals police officers and their families, domestic violence victims, and all others, as well as to create a false sense of danger in those who do not have gun permits of their neighbors. The evidence that this is so is that the paper did not publish an interactive map identifying convicted felons in these counties, which might really have helped people, and they didn't create an interactive that contained dots showing general locations without precise addresses and names. The only real question is which politicians buddied up with the J-N to create this problem. The problem is that it backfired, as most people understand very clearly that criminals are to be feared, but that those who legally own guns of have permits have had a very extensive vetting in order to get a permit. Criminals don't care what laws anyone passes. There will do what they want and get any gun they want. Ask yourself why this map, why this level of detail, and why an interactive map that "targets" specific people. There is no good answer. I wonder how many legally owned guns will now fall into the hands of criminals. I wonder which cop's family will be harmed before Ellen Jaffee, Tom Abinanti and the others will wake up and "get" how wrong they are. Of course, who knows who was really behind this thing when the J-N hides behind the poor excuse that this has anything to do with the 1st Amendment.


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