Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell is overreaching with her plan to broaden a bill known as Marks Law as a deterrent to gun-related crimes.
A different version of the law, named after Cape Vincent emergency medical technician Mark B. Davis, who was killed responding to a call for help in 2009, failed to make it though the Assembly after passing the Senate last year. Mrs. Russells proposal would make killing a first responder first-degree murder punishable by life in prison without parole.
Mrs. Russell said she is seeking more justice in cases like Marks, but her irrational response to a horrific tragedy would make one life more valuable than another. What does she mean by more justice? More judges? More prosecutors? Why should one category of people deserve more justice than another?
Her ill-thought out bill goes beyond criminal activity, though. Assemblywoman Russell wants to start closing off access to public records on the unfounded assumption that it will prevent criminals from obtaining guns.
Just how many criminals have gone to their local police department armed with a Freedom of Information request to learn who has a gun so they could burglarize a house to steal the weapon to rob or kill someone? Criminals know where they can find guns. They dont have to ask the police.
Assemblywoman Russell added the secrecy provision after a newspaper published the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties using information received through a Freedom of Information request. Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie has tentatively endorsed the idea.
Their rationale contradicts the argument that gun ownership makes one safer or deters crime by instead attracting a would-be burglar. By their reasoning, gun ownership invites victimization.
As for the concern about disclosing the addresses of police officers in public listings, well, in todays information-saturated Internet world, it isnt hard to find out where anyone lives. Google it.
Determining access to public records based on how someone will use or misuse the data sets a new standard that could be invoked to put other information off limits. Maybe next Assemblywoman Russell and Sen. Ritchie will want to protect their privacy by making their state salary off limits to the public.
Assemblywoman Russell should use her scheduled press conference today to announce that she is withdrawing her legislation.