Four good government groups released a statement this afternoon in support of The Journal News’ controversial decision to publish the names and addresses of handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties and took officials of a third county – Putnam – to task for flouting the Freedom of Information Law and refusing the fulfill the paper’s request for the data on their constituents.

Common Cause/NY, the League of Women Voters of NY, the New York Public Interest Research Group, and the Partnership for the Public Good said the following:

“The Penal Law is clear: ‘the name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted shall be a public record.’ Similarly, the FOIL law, which governs access to public records is also clear, and like any law, is not subject to selective application. This is no different than information about parking tickets, property records, or professional licenses.”

“The Freedom of Information Law presumes that government records are public information unless they fall within narrow exceptions.”

“‘Sunshine’ laws, like FOIL, are essential for making government transparent and accountable. We oppose efforts to undermine the integrity of the state’s Freedom of Information Law, and fear the slippery slope of carving out exceptions as an attempt to undermine the public interest. New York needs more transparency and publicly available information, not less.”

This isn’t surprisingly, since it’s in keeping with what New York’s open government guru, Bob Freeman, has been saying for weeks now.

The groups did not mention the fact that The Journal News is now not alone in publicizing this data. Gawker today posted a list of all the handgun owners in New York City. The list might be outdated, however, because the site indicates it was generated from a 2010 database.

We’ve also got a new statement from Sen. Greg Ball, who has been leading the charge against the so-called “eggheads” at the Journal News and said yesterday that he was going to rally outside the paper’s offices at some yet-undetermined date.

(His office told me this afternoon that they’re still coordinating with the local police association, which wanted to hold the event tomorrow, but the possibility of getting any coverage was low, given that it would clash with the governor’s State of the State address).

“How ironic that the same irresponsible editors, who one day before Christmas, went out of their way to place a virtual scarlet letter on law abiding firearm owners, including victims of domestic violence, hero cops and single moms, are now crying uncle,” Ball said.

“When asked to take the site down, they told all of these good, law abiding people to “eat cake”. Well, now these same editors are getting a taste of that poisonous cake and if anything can wake them up and force them to take the interactive crime spree map down, maybe it will be their own intrinsic cowardice, because we sure as hell can’t rely on their good judgment.”

A Ball spokesman told me the senator’s statement is in response to a recent New York Times story that detailed how The Journal News has been targeted since its own story on local gun permit owners and an interactive map detailing their whereabouts hit the web last month.