Newspaper takes down N.Y. gun owners' map

Jan. 19, 2013 at 1:20 PM
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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- A New York state newspaper has taken down a controversial interactive map that revealed the names and locations of handgun owners in two counties.

The map of handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties -- created from publicly available data -- stirred a public outcry when The (White Plains, N.Y.) Journal News published it last month, after the massacre of 20 students and six adult staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Gun permit holders and privacy advocates were angered by the map because it allowed users to click on dots that revealed the names of people with permits to own handguns.

In a message to readers posted online Friday, Star Journal Publisher Janet Hasson acknowledged the negative reaction but said the map was not taken down as "a concession to critics."

"Many in the community expressed their gratitude for The Journal News' decision to make the information available, but permit holders were outraged at what they considered to be an invasion of privacy," Hasson said. "Gun owners from across the country vocally conveyed their anger and accused The Journal News of having exposed permit holders and non-permit holders alike to the risk of burglaries and other crimes. Hundreds of threats were made to Journal News staffers."

Hasson said the newspaper had "heard from too many grateful community members to consider our decision to post information contained in the public record to have been a mistake."

The map had been posted for 27 days and "we believe those who wanted to view it have done so already," Hasson said. "As well, with the passage of time, the data will become outdated and inaccurate."

She said "we will keep a snapshot of our map -- with all its red dots -- on our website to remind the community that guns are a fact of life we should never forget."

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