The Journal News removed the names and addresses of suburban New York City handgun permit holders from its website two weeks ago after a nearly month-long public outcry, but conceded this weekend that much of the information it published was incorrect to begin with.
“Nobody ever called and verified the address,” resident Mike Smith told the Journal News. Smith was one of many who contacted the newspaper after his home falsely appeared on the map. He determined that his brother-in-law once used his address to apply for a gun back in 1997, before moving out of state.
Of the nearly 17,000 permit holders published for Rockland County, fewer than 4,000 were considered “current,” according to the newspaper. That’s because Rockland, like much of New York, issued permits that didn’t need to be renewed. As a result, the vast majority were considered “historical,” with some even going back to the 1930s, County Clerk Paul Piperato said. Other entries included people who had died, moved away or no longer had guns.
The permit information published for Westchester County fared better, but was still not exact. Until this month, Westchester was one of three counties that required permits be renewed every five years.
The newspaper has defended its decision to publish the information despite vast criticism. When it removed the name and address information earlier this month, replacing it instead with with dots representing the density of gun permits in each county, publisher Janet Hasson said it was “not a concession to critics.”
Instead, Hasson said the information had been up for long enough and was likely to become outdated the longer it remained.
“[T]he database has been public for 27 days and we believe those who wanted to view it have done so already. As well, with the passage of time, the data will become outdated and inaccurate,” Hasson wrote.
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