Gun owners in suburban New York are incensed after a local newspaper, the Journal News, published an interactive Google map showing their names and addresses.
The Journal News received the data, which includes the identities of every registered handgun owner in Rockland and Westchester, via a Freedom of Information Act request. (Data on gun owners in Putnam County is still being compiled, the paper said.)
Understandably, gun owners and privacy-rights activists are rather upset. The article, posted Saturday, has since received nearly 2,000 comments, most of them criticizing the newspaper. “This is the type of thing you do for sex offenders, not law-abiding gun owners,” wrote commenter Curtis Maenza. Others pointed out that the map could in fact help promote additional crimes, by highlighting homes that do not have guns, providing “a list of homes to avoid, now knowing that the other homes in the neighborhood are not armed and thus easier to invade,” wrote commenter Joseph Conklin.
The Journal News notes on its website that the information contained in the map is a matter of public record, but the presentation — particularly in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 children and seven adults dead and sparked a nationwide debate on gun control — has proved hugely controversial.
Indeed, the article attached to the newspaper’s Google map isn’t exactly controversy-averse: “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood,” reads the headline. Ironically, an editor’s note at the beginning of the article informs readers that its writer, Dwight Worley, is a licensed gun owner himself — and is in turn listed on the very map he created.
On Tuesday, the Journal News responded to its critics, noting that the map had been shared more than 20,000 times and defending its actions. “[W]e felt sharing as much information as we could about gun ownership in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings,” said CynDee Royle, the Journal News’ editor and vice president of news.