The past few months have been eventful for Westchester’s gun owners. It started on December 14, 2012, when a young man named Adam Lanza stole guns from his mother, murdered her, and went on to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It was obvious that the tragedy was going to evoke strong responses from the media, politicians, and public. What was surprising was the amount of focus placed on Westchester County. On December 22, the Journal News published the names and addresses of all Westchester and Rockland County residents with pistol permits. The outrage that followed was so intense that the publication had to hire armed security guards to protect its staff, many of whom had received threats. It eventually pulled the map from its website. State legislators passed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act on January 15, 2013, making New York’s already strict gun laws even narrower—and giving registered gun owners the option to request to keep their permit information private. The legislation was voted on and signed into law on the same day, causing critics to say policies were rushed.
There is no doubt that these recent developments have greatly impacted a large number of residents in Westchester. As of mid-December, there were 16,616 people on the pistol permit list in Westchester County. The goal of this article was to find out what everyday Westchester residents—not gun lobbyists or activists or politicians, whose views are widely known—think of all the recent events relating to firearms and their decisions to own them. Here are our conversations with eight local gun owners.
Alyson Krueger is a freelance journalist based in New York City. She’s recently contributed to the New York Times, Wired, the Village Voice, Tablet, and the Pennsylvania Gazette, among other publications. She covers a range of topics.