A newspaper in New York has received a wave of criticism from its readers after publishing the names and addresses of all of the individuals with handgun or pistol permits in its coverage area.
Hundreds of residents in New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties were surprised to find their names and addresses listed on a map posted by The Journal News on Sunday. Users can click any dot on the map to see which of their neighbors has a permit for a gun.
The map sparked more than 500 comments from readers within a day of its appearance on the website, many of them voicing outrage at the paper’s decision to make the information public.
“This is CRAZY!! why in the world would you post every licensed gun owner information?? What do you hope to accomplish by doing this. This is the type of thing you do for sex offenders not law abiding gun owners. What next? should i hang a flag outside my house that says I own a gun? I am canceling my subscription with your paper today!!!” said commenter Curtis Maenza.
“How about a map of the editorial staff and publishers of Gannett and Journal News with names and addresses of their families…,” wrote commenter George Thompson.
All of the names and addresses were compiled through public records. The paper also requested the information from Putnam County, which is still compiling the records for publication, according to The Journal News’ website.
In a statement to ABC News, The Journal News said its readers “are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods,” because of the conversation about gun control on its website after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., last week.
“We obtained the names and addresses of Westchester and Rockland residents who are licensed to own handguns through routine Freedom of Information law requests. We also requested information on the number and types of guns owned by permit holders, but officials in the county clerks offices in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties maintained that those specifics were not public record,” the statement read.
“New York’s top public-records expert, Robert Freeman, disagrees,” it added.
The paper declined to answer further questions about the map.