US paper slammed over gun database

2012-12-27 10:30

New York - A New York newspaper has sparked outrage by publishing a detailed map with thousands of names and addresses of gun permit holders in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

The publication of the database on Wednesday came amid a heated debate over gun control revived after the Connecticut massacre and drew intense criticism on social media outlets from gun owners, who called it a violation of privacy.

The Journal News in New York state's Westchester County obtained the publicly available information from county clerks and published it in an interactive map alongside an article entitled "The Gun Owner Next Door".

The paper obtained the names and addresses of more than 33 000 permit holders in two counties, though it said that more than 13 000 had no activity in the last five years, and could belong to people who moved or passed away.

It said it was awaiting information on 11 000 permit-holders from a third county.

The newspaper defended the publication, saying the information was legally obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and that its readers had a right to know whether their neighbours owned firearms.

Invasion of privacy

"We knew publication of the database would be controversial, but we 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, editor and vice president of the Journal News, a Gannett Publication.

"People are concerned about who owns guns and how many of them there are in their neighbourhoods," she said. The newspaper had also asked for information about the type and number of weapons people owned, but that request was denied.

Critics slammed the move as an invasion of privacy that could put gun owners at risk, and the newspaper said it had received hundreds of calls from people who feared for their safety or felt their privacy had been violated.

"You're giving a shopping list to criminals," the newspaper quoted Tom King, president of the New York Rifle & Pistol Association, as saying.

"Does it matter if you own 47 guns or you own one gun? Everybody likes to think that someone who has all of these guns is evil, that there's some nefarious reason they have all these guns. There are collectors."

The newspaper's Facebook page drew hundreds of comments, positive and negative, with several users publishing the home addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the daily's publisher and editors.

The school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut earlier this month - in which 26 people, including 20 young children - were shot dead, has sparked renewed calls for new gun regulation.

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-12-27 11:21

    Smart now the terrorist have a comprehensive list of weapons they can steal. Smarty pants americans!

  • mofstok - 2012-12-27 11:29

    Looks like somebody returned the favour to the reporter and editor:

      peter.cornelius.39 - 2012-12-27 13:13

      Oops, I did not see your post and replicated your link a bit below. Sorry about that :)

      mofstok - 2012-12-27 14:40

      No worries! ;O)

  • ben.nevis.906 - 2012-12-27 11:57

    The Yanks should have another revolution. This time to sort out their gene pool.

  • mofstok - 2012-12-27 12:27

    In all seriousness, this is a immensely stupid and irresponsible thing for the newspaper to have done. Can you imagine had a paper done this in SA?

      dave.learmont.5 - 2012-12-27 17:36

      Do you really think that list of all firearm owners is not in circulation already? you can buy anything from the SAPS, via the back door, even guns from the station commissioner.

  • flysouth - 2012-12-27 12:56

    No - the neighbours have no specific right to know who owns a gun in their neighbourhood, unless that gun is illegally owned - in which case, of course there will be no information available anyway!

  • peter.cornelius.39 - 2012-12-27 13:01

    Mmmm, seems a spanner was thrown in the works :) Here is a great article posting all the information about the Publishers, reporters and staff who work at The Journal News: The newspaper's editor has disabled her Facebook account and reply posts stating The Journal News' employees details have been removed from their forum posts etc... Ha ha, not so nice when the shoe is on the other foot, now is it? To quote what someone said in reply to the stupidity of the newspaper publishing the gun-owners details: "Just because gasoline is legal to own, does not mean you should sniff it." AND it seems, the "right to access" and the "right to publish" the gun-owners details was not exactly legal either.

  • paul.oxley.520 - 2012-12-27 17:16

    The editor and the journalist deserve to have wooden stakes hammered through their black hearts. Fortunately gunowners are too responsible and law abiding to publish photos of the editors little girl and where she goes to school and watches movies. The danger of lists...

  • cheryl.laing.94 - 2012-12-27 17:45

    Now reporting has reached a new low...but then this particular newspaper is probably owned by a leftist/liberal person doing somebody else's dirty work for them.....pathetic.

  • gavin.brown.1654 - 2012-12-27 17:51

    at's the problem? Think of the armed civil militia that could be assembled at a moments notice to deal with any invasion of redcoats!

      gary.landman - 2012-12-27 18:47

      Gavin.. the 2nd amendment deals specifically with the right to bear arms in case the government gets to the point where they bear arms against the populace.. its about balance of power, something that the people of South Africa now know nothing about!

      jy.wilmos - 2012-12-30 12:33

      Or the dastardly commies. As Gary pointed out, presumably tongue-in-cheek, the deception that the arms industry, through its mouthpiece the NRA, uses to justify its massive sales of assault weapons to civilians (over 70% of the total trade in these weapons is to civilians) is that the firearms are necessary for "people to protect themselves from the US government". For anyone naive enought to think that the NRA is not the arms industry, and that this "debate" is over anything other than big profits (the right to make bucks), here's two questions to ponder: 1. where would the US government get the personnel to wage war on US civilians, given the professional nature of its armed forces and its heavy dependance on national guard units? 2. assuming the US govt would at some point turn the full brunt of its military might on its own population, surely the population should be arming itself with anti-tank weapons, mortars, anti-aircraft weapons, high explosives of all kinds (to construct IEDs) - in other words weapons which might actually help a civilian resistance against the most sophisticated and advanced military the world has ever seen.

  • - 2012-12-27 19:18

    Gun control advocates have no respect for anything they don't like or fear and they have a lot of fears. They bask in the blood of victims riding the crest of the wave of tragedy spewing their hate and fear to all who will foolishly listen. These shootings are a direct result of stupidity of giving the deranged the ideal conditions that they want. Then they insist more control and more gun free areas will decrease these horrific events. I think gun control advocates are more insane than the shooters. They certainly are the criminals friends, giving them unarmed victims who come with a government backed guarantee of being unarmed.

  • kseyffert - 2012-12-27 22:12

    Just another example of the general quality of US schooling. What properly educated person would paint targets on so many people? Morons!!!

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