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New York newspaper pinpoints gun owners

  • Article by: J. DAVID GOODMAN
  • New York Times
  • December 26, 2012 - 8:58 PM

A newspaper's interactive map listing the names and addresses of gun permit holders in two New York counties has drawn an avalanche of outrage.

As word spread across social media, thousands left comments expressing anger at the map, compiled from publicly available information on handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties and published online over the weekend by the Journal News, a newspaper based in White Plains, N.Y., and owned by Gannett Co.

The clickable map is made up of thousands of dots, each representing a permit holder. By clicking the dots, users can view the name and address of each permit holder. Rifle and shotgun owners were not included because, the newspaper noted, those guns can be purchased without a permit.

The map thrust the paper directly into the heated national debate over guns that has followed the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.

"Now everyone knows where the LEGAL GUNS are kept, a valuable piece of information for criminals," wrote an irate Facebook commenter who gave his name as Mike Pandolfo. "Why don't you do something helpful, like trying to find out where the ILLEGAL GUNS are kept?"

The comment was characteristic of the reaction of many of the thousands that had been attached to the article as it flew around social networking and news organizations' sites, seemingly shared more in outrage than in support.

In an editor's note published with the article, the newspaper said that the author of the article, Dwight Worley, is himself the owner of a handgun and has had a residence permit for the gun since February 2011.

Editors at the newspaper and representatives at Gannett did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

But Janet Hasson, the president of the Journal News Media Group, defended the decision to publish the map, in a statement published by the newspaper. "New York residents have the right to own guns with a permit and they also have a right to access public information," she said.

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