Editor’s note: This post contains some strong language that may be offensive to some readers.
The website Gawker has outdone New York’s “Journal News” and published the names of all licensed gun owners in New York City. With the provocative headline, “Here Is a List of All the A**holes Who Own Guns in New York City,” John Cook provides a 446-page list of every licensed gun owner in NYC, obtained two-and-a-half years ago via a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Below is a 446-page list of every licensed gun owner in New York City…Because the NYPD is more interested in raping and/or eating ladies and spying on Muslims than it is in honoring public records law, the list contains only the names, and not the addresses, of the licensees,” Cook writes.
(Scroll down for updates to this story)
The Journal News sparked outrage when it published the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland Counties. The paper wanted to also publish the information of gun owners in Putnam County, N.Y., but so far the county has refused, saying providing the information would put the public in danger.
As Cook correctly points out, section 400.00 of the Penal Law of New York, entitled “Licenses to carry, possess, repair and dispose of firearms,” makes addresses of licensed gun owners public information. “The name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted shall be a public record,” the law states.
Critics argue, however, just because information is publicly available, that doesn’t mean it should be published online and in newspapers for criminals and others to see. In other states, like Texas, the personal information of concealed weapons license holders is considered confidential.
In his post, Cook also brags about outing Fox News chief Roger Ailes, Sean Hannity, Howard Stern, Don Imus, Donald Trump and others as gun owners with permits to own or carry firearms in the city in 2010.
Because New York pistol owners must register with their local police department and the state, the names of 1.2 million New York handgun owners and the addresses of 300,000 of them have been available online for more than two years. Because of this, gun owners in New York should not be upset about the Journal News or other outlets like Gawker publicizing their personal information, according to Cook.
“In any case, it’s clear that many of the Rockland County and Westchester County gun owners who are outraged at having their addresses plastered on the internet have had those addresses plastered on the internet for years without it causing a problem. And if anyone wanted to really stir some sh*t up, they’d grab those Who’s Packing databases and throw them up on Google Maps,” Cook writes.
While the names and addresses of gun owners are considered public information in New York, the media, even websites like Gawker, still have a responsibility to exercise smart editorial judgment and carefully consider the consequences of all of its decisions.
Ex-burglars and thieves recently told Fox News that a database of gun owners is like “gold” for criminals, letting them know which houses are easy targets and which ones have guns to steal. Frank Abignale, the famous former thief portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch Me if You Can,” called the Journal News’ decision to publish gun owners’ information “reprehensible.” Another ex-burglar said the newspaper was “exceptionally stupid” in its actions.
“And for the record,” Cook concluded. “[The gun owners] are not all a**holes. Some of them need guns for legitimate reasons for their jobs, like providing security for a**holes.”
TheBlaze is not providing the 446-page list of all New York City licensed gun owners.
UPDATE: Gawker quickly changed its headline, striking through the word “a**holes” and mockingly replacing it with “handsome law-abiding citizens.”
Update II: Gawker is now reporting death threats directed at the website over its decision to publish the names of all licensed gun owners in New York City.
About an hour-and-a-half after they published the story, someone apparently called Gawker’s headquarters and said “you’re f**kin dead.” Gawker reports it is “fair to assume this was related to the gun post.”
Another Gawker employee claims to have received a phone call after the story went live, telling her to “look both ways when you leave the building” and “all of you better look both ways because you’re going to get shot.” The same caller also reportedly said “every girl better have a boyfriend because you need someone to protect you.”
Gawker has contacted the police over the threats.
“These violent threats come as reaction to us publishing information that was already publicly available,” the website writes.