New York newspaper takes down gun owner details from website

Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:32pm EST

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(Reuters) - A New York newspaper pulled the names and addresses of thousands of gun permit holders from its website on Friday, ending a fierce battle over the data published after the Connecticut elementary school massacre.

The Journal News, which serves suburbs just north of New York City in Westchester and Rockland counties, cited in part New York's new gun control law, which allows permit holders to request confidentiality, for its decision to take the data down.

The newspaper, owned by the Gannett Co, published a map with the names and addresses of permit holders in the areas it serves last month in the aftermath of the massacre of 20 children and six adults at the school in Newtown, Connecticut.

The publication created an uproar among gun enthusiasts, and the Journal News felt threatened enough by the outcry over the map to hire a private security company to protect its employees. State gun-owner groups had called for an advertising boycott until the newspaper removed the information from its website.

Janet Hasson, president and publisher of the Journal News Media Group, on Friday stood behind the decision to publish the data, saying the dots on the interactive map conveyed a powerful message.

"But the database has been public for 27 days and we believe those who wanted to view it have done so already," Hasson said in a letter on the www.lohud.com website. "As well, with the passage of time, the data will become outdated and inaccurate."

A non-interactive screenshot of the dots was maintained on the site.

Hasson said the decision to remove the information was not a concession to critics who questioned the value of posting it or a response to the threats to staff, and that the newspaper would "continue to report aggressively on gun ownership."

She said the newspaper does not endorse the state legislature's decision to limit public access to the permit data, "But we are not deaf to voices who have said that new rules should be set for gun permit data."

The gun control provisions signed into law on Tuesday by Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded a state ban on assault weapons, imposed limits on the capacity of ammunition magazines and added measures to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (5)
HLM wrote:
Shame on this paper. How many of those owners were women? Stats show about 40% would be. How many were abused? Sadly those numbers are also quite high. Is it hard to think that out of those thousands of names and addresses that some were abused women who bought a gun to defend themselves and were trying to avoid stalkers or past abusers. Yet this woman publishes names and addresses without regard for whether that put other women at risk. We have read that guards at prisons had prisoners telling them where they lived because they were able to get friends to look up this information. This was a reckless newspaper who didn’t give due diligence to the issue and may have endangered the lives of others. Hypocrites.

Jan 19, 2013 7:23am EST  --  Report as abuse
Murphy456 wrote:
One of the major objections to firearm registration is the inevitability of incidents like this. Can you imagine if this newspaper had published the whereabouts of every individual legally taking mood altering drugs such as anti-depressants, ADHD medication, or anti-psychotics? Newton was horrific, but I am much more terrified by all the people who refuse to, or are unable to, cope with the fact that we as humans have very little control over anyone but ourselves. Nature is indifferent to our plight so it is vital that we accept that the policies that could effectively keep us from harming ourselves or others are the very policies that destroy the freedoms that allow our individuality to blossom into something with the potential to help all humans. For those who did not grow up with firearms, in the absence of fond memories shooting with friends and family you are left with only media accounts of “gun violence.” You are ignorant to other side of the debate and speak from feelings not fact. Rectify your ignorance before trying to control the actions of others who were raised differently than yourselves and have not harmed anyone.

Jan 19, 2013 7:40am EST  --  Report as abuse
Seabee267 wrote:
“the Journal News felt threatened enough by the outcry over the map to hire a private security company to protect its employees”.

Funny, the anti-gun management hires armed guards to protect their employee’s but they have issue’s with private citizen’s owning guns to provide their own defense.

Jan 19, 2013 9:36am EST  --  Report as abuse
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