Apparently undeterred by retaliation from a pro-Second Amendment blogger, the editorial staff at Gannett’s “Journal News” is at it again.
After creating an uproar for publishing the names and addresses of gun owners in New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties, “Journal News” announced it would release and publish the names and addresses of permit holders in Putnam County, according to Reuters.
“Further names and addresses will be added as they become available to a map originally published on December 24 in the White Plains, New York-based Journal News,” the report notes.
The map was included in an article entitled “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood,” that was released shortly after a shooting spree in Newtown, Conn., claimed 26 lives, including 20 children.
“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,” Reuters adds.
The newspaper’s decision to publish the names and addresses of permit holders has been met with both praise and criticism.
“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, wrote on the newspaper’s web site. “What a bunch of liberal boobs you all are.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Greg Ball (R-N.Y.) announced plans to introduce legislation that would keep the names and addresses of gun owners private except to law enforcement.
“The asinine editors at the Journal News have once again gone out of their way to place a virtual scarlet letter on law abiding firearm owners throughout the region,” the senator’s website reads.
For her part, CynDee Royle, VP of news and editor, stands by the newspaper’s decision to publish private citizens’ information.
“We knew publication of the database would be controversial, but we felt sharing as much information as we could about gun ownership in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings,” she said.
But Al Tompkins, media critic for the Poynter Institute, writes that the newspaper failed to justify its decision to publish permit holders’ personal information.
“If journalists could show flaws in the gun permitting system, that would be newsworthy,” he said. “Or, for example, if gun owners were exempted from permits because of political connections, then journalists could better justify the privacy invasion.”
He continued, adding that he “feared the dispute might prompt lawmakers to play to privacy fears,” as Reuters notes.
“The net effect of the abuse of public records from all sides may well be a public distaste for opening records, which would be the biggest mistake of all,” he said.
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(H/T: Newser). Featured image courtesy Lohud.com.