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NY Newspaper Removes Map of Handgun Owners three days after State Passes Gun Control Legislation

A suburban New York newspaper that outraged  gun owners by posting the names and addresses of residents with handgun permits  removed the information from its website Friday.

The Journal News took down the data just  three days after the state enacted a gun control law that included privacy  provisions for permit holders.

The provisions were a reaction to interactive  maps the newspaper published on LoHud.com that pinpointed thousands of permit  holders in Westchester and Rockland counties.

Gun rights activists had immediately  complained that permit owners’ privacy was being violated. They said the map  could guide burglars to their homes while police groups claimed the map could  lead ex-convicts to the officers who had put them away.

Scare: An envelope of white powder is a latest threat targeted at New York paper The News Journal after it published a list of gun permit owners in the area

The addresses of some Journal News  staffers  were posted online, and threats were called in to the  newspaper’s offices. The  newspaper hired armed guards in response.

Janet Hasson, president and publisher  of The  Journal News Media Group, said in an emailed statement, “While  the new law does  not require us to remove the data, we believe that  doing so complies with its  spirit.”

She said the maps had been viewed  nearly 1.2  million times since they were published Dec. 23. The  newspaper sought the  records under the state Freedom of Information Law  after the Dec. 14 elementary  school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where a  gunman who had killed his mother at  home killed 20 first-graders and six educators and then committed  suicide.

The maps remained online late Friday but  could no longer be manipulated to find names and addresses.

State Sen. Greg Ball, the most vocal  opponent of the posting, said, “Thank God The Journal News has finally  realized the error in their judgment and done the right thing. … I am  proud  to have passed legislation keeping The Journal News from doing  this ever  again.”

On Tuesday, as part of a gun control  bill,  the state Legislature passed and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed new  regulations that  give permit holders several ways to opt out of the  public record.

Applicants can ask to be exempted  because  they are police officers or served on criminal-case juries or  are victims of  domestic violence. They also can just say they might be  subjected to  harassment.

Hasson said Friday, “One of our core missions as a newspaper is to  empower  our readers with as much information as possible on the critical issues they  face, and guns have certainly become a top issue since the  massacre in nearby  Newtown, Conn.”

The paper caused a stir on December 23 when  it listed thousands of  pistol permit holders in suburban Westchester and  Rockland counties just north of New York City in an interactive map on its  website.

Editor Caryn  A. McBride hired gun-toting security guards to patrol the paper’s offices amid a  flurry of angry emails and phone calls in the following days.

The paper hired the increased security from  RGA Investigations & Security, a firm based in New City that provides  services like protection and security guard certification, according to the  Times.

The news came just days after the Journal  News announced plans to publish an expanded list of  even more  permit-holding locals.

Along with an article entitled ‘The  gun  owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your  neighborhood,’  the Journal News map was  compiled in response to the December 14  shooting deaths of 20 children and six  adults in Newtown, Connecticut,  editors of the Gannett Corp.-owned newspaper  said.

The next batch of names will be  permit  holders in suburban Putnam County, New York, where the county  clerk told the  newspaper it is still compiling information.

Some 44,000 people are licensed to  own  pistols in the three counties, the newspaper said. Owners of rifles  and  shotguns do not need permits, the newspaper said.

The publication prompted outrage,  particularly on social media sites, among gun owners.

‘Do you fools realize that you also  made a  map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns  in them to  protect themselves?’ Rob Seubert of Silver Spring, Maryland,  posted on the  newspaper’s web site. ‘What a bunch of liberal boobs you  all are.’

Republican state Senator Greg Ball of Patterson, New York, said he planned to introduce legislation to keep  permit  information private except to prosecutors and police.

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Posted by on January 19, 2013. Filed under NY News,Slider. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.