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N.Y. Newspaper's Gun-Owner Database Draws Criticism



The interactive maps not only give an overall picture of the distribution of handgun permits, but can also be zoomed in upon, revealing the name and address of those licensed to own a handgun, be it pistol or revolver.

Thousands of people, many from outside Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, have taken to their computers and phones in rage after The Journal News of WhitevPlains, New York posted an online database of local gun-permit holders.

The database, legally obtained from the County Clerks’ Offices through a Freedom of Information Act request made after the shootings in Sandy Hook, Conn., that left 20 children and eight adults dead, has been called irresponsible, dangerous and leaning toward intimidation by online pundits.

Social media played a big part in the exponential spread of the story, whose map has been recommended more than 20,000 times. Two Facebook posts linking to the article on Sunday garnered 346 comments as of Tuesday evening. That’s in addition to 167 comments posted directly to Facebook.com/LoHud since the article was published.

Hundreds of callers have complained, claiming publication of the database put their safety at risk or violated their privacy. Others claimed publication was illegal. Many of the callers were vitriolic and some threatened members of the newspaper staff.

“New York residents have the right to own guns with a permit and they also have a right to access public information,” said Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group.

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