New York lawmakers want gun permits private after newspaper names pistol owners

4 01 2013

In the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., two New York legislators are proposing a bill to control information about gun owners.

New York State Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, and Assemblyman Steve Katz, R-Yorktown, want to amend the state’s Freedom of Information Law after the Journal News published a story on pistol permits issued in Rockland and Westchester counties. The report also included an interactive map showing the names and addresses of permit holders, although the map could not be searched by name.

The permit data is a public record in New York, and the paper obtained the data by filing public records requests.

The article and map provoked outrage, with bloggers posting names and addresses for the newspaper’s staff and someone sending a powder-filled envelope to the paper’s office. Some critics say the article stigmatized gun owners, while others claimed it created a map for criminals who are either looking for homes with guns to steal or homes where the owners don’t have guns.

“The Journal News has really come up with the perfect map for the perpetrators and for the stalkers and for the criminals,” Katz said in a Journal News article. “They have yet to give us a cogent reason why, except for the reason that they can. I am sorry — that is not acceptable.”

The map only shows people who own registered handguns —pistols and revolvers. New York residents do not need permits for rifles or shotguns, so a burglar looking for a defenseless house may be fatally disappointed.

And in Putnam County, New York, where the paper has a request for permit information pending, the county clerk has announced that he will not fill the request, even though he is required by law to do so.

“It’s really clear-cut,” Diane Kennedy, president of the New York News Publishers Association, said in an Associated Press story. “The existing law doesn’t have exemptions in it. It says the information is subject [to the open records law].”

While some can debate the journalistic merits of disclosing the permit information, gutting a public-records law may not be the right solution. In Utah, the Government Records Access and Management Act’s declaration that names of concealed weapons permit holders is protected from public disclosure creates its own, unintended problems.

When Mark Vreeland pleaded no contest to impersonating a police officer, the self-described neighborhood activist said the conviction would not cost him his concealed-carry permit, even though in court he said he almost drew the gun on the BYU student he pulled over and grilled about his immigration status. When I attempted to verify that with the Department of Public Safety, not only could I not be told whether Vreeland’s permit was yanked, I couldn’t even be told if Vreeland had one.

Updated database shows which professionals were sanctioned in 2012

26 12 2012

Looking for a new doctor, barber or contractor? You might want to check here first.

With help from Tony Semerad, the Tribune’s computer-assisted reporting editor, we’ve updated the professional licensing disciplinary databaseon The database shows actions the state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing has taken against doctors, nurses, contractors, cosmetologists and other licensed professionals who have violated the law or professional codes. This latest update covers the period between December 2011 and November 2012.

The current update includes data on 656 companies and individuals. Among them, there are:

• 297 in the construction industry.

• 92 nursing professionals.

• 51 pharmacists or pharmacies.

• 40 physicians and/or surgeons.

• 32 cosmetologist/barbers.

• 21 massage therapists.

• 16 dental professionals.

The database is searchable by city, profession, individual’s name and company name. Let us know what you think, or how you’ve used the information.

Do you want to know if your investment broker has a ‘minor infraction’?

21 12 2012
How much information do you want about your investment broker’s background?

If Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, gets his way, there won’t be much at all — at least as far as cases brought against brokers by the state.

 As Robert Gehrke reported, Stephenson wants the state Division of Finance to remove cases brought against investment brokers removed from the Internet. Stephenson claims that some of the advisers charged admitted to “minor infractions”, and that some of those admissions were the result of alleged abuses within the department that were highlighted in a 2008 legislative audit.

Stephenson said those cases now come up in Internet searches, causing people to “think my neighbor or my bishop is a criminal.”

The Utah Securities Commission voted to keep the information public.

One would think that when it comes to investing hard-earned money that an investor is entitled to know about all the skeletons lurking in their advisers’ closet, no matter how trivial.

Stephenson’s request raises the question of what constitutes a “minor infraction” in the eyes of someone looking for a broker or financial adviser.

What may be minor in Stephenson’s eyes might, to another person, be a red flag that this broker may not be the person who should be managing his kid’s college fund or his retirement investment.

Dame Agatha Christe said, “When large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody.” She didn’t make an exception for minor infractions.

Do you think making this information available will help Utah rein in its problem with fraud, including “affinity fraud”?

DOPL Database update

15 09 2011

Of 95 new records on Utah professionals disciplined by the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing in June and July, more than half pertain to individuals and firms in the construction trades. Search the database on license sanctions back to 2009, at

Updated Professional Licensing Citations for June

9 08 2011

A Salt Lake City massage therapist voluntarily surrendered his license in June after the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing reported he touched a female client inappropriately. The therapist is one of 52 licensed professionals who were given citations by DOPL in Utah during the month of June.
Go to to find licensing actions and disciplinary sanctions taken against individuals working in over 100 licensed professions in Utah since 2009.
Other professional sanctioned in June include pharmacists from Lehi and Draper, each sanctioned for running an unlicensed pharmacy. The pharmacists were each fined $8,000, with $4,000 of that suspended.
A tile company based in Salem had its license placed on probation for four years in June after DOPL determined the company was delinquent on taxes. Professionals ranging from dentists and veterinarians to cosmetologists and construction companies are all searchable by city, profession, company, or name, via a link on

Most Disciplinary Actions Against Nurse’s Since 2009

9 05 2011

The Utah Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing’s monthly list of sanctions against licensed Utah professionals shows more new disciplinary orders for registered nurses in April 2011 than any month since June 2009. Search disciplinary records against licensed professionals in nursing, cosmetology, dentistry and more with’s DOPL database

Updated Professional Licensing Citations

12 04 2011

A dentist in Bicknell, Utah had his license revoked when he issued false prescriptions to himself, family members and staff. An armed security guard lost his license due to a mental health condition. A construction contractor in Salt Lake County has various probationary conditions on his license for delinquent taxes. Go to to find licensing actions and disciplinary sanctions taken against individuals working in over 100 licensed professions in Utah since 2009. From physicians to cosmetologists, veterinarians to armed security guards–all searchable by profession type, company, city, or name.