Gun Owner's Names and Addresses published by Newspaper
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  1. #1
    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Default Gun Owner's Names and Addresses published by Newspaper

    Responsible journalism or invasion of privacy?

    An interactive map showing the names and addresses of all handgun permit holders in New York's Westchester and Rockland counties has infuriated many readers since it was posted Saturday on a newspaper's website.

    The map, published by The Journal News, allows readers to zoom in on red dots that indicate which residents are licensed to own pistols or revolvers. It had prompted more than 1,700 comments as of Wednesday morning.

    Blue dots indicate permit holders who "have purchased a firearm or updated the information on a permit in the past five years."

    "So should we start wearing yellow Stars of David so the general public can be aware of who we are??" one commenter wrote.

    "This is crazy!" wrote another.
    Some of those responding threatened to cancel their subscriptions or boycott the publication.

    "I hope you lose readers now," one wrote.

    The paper's publisher, Janet Hasson, president of the Journal News Media Group, defended the decision in a statement Wednesday.

    "One of our roles is to report publicly available information on timely issues, even when unpopular. We knew publication of the database (as well as the accompanying article providing context) would be controversial, but we felt sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings," she said.

    The newspaper also said it had wanted to publish even more information.

    "We were surprised when we weren't able to obtain information on what kinds and how many weapons people in our market own," the newspaper said in a statement.

    County clerks' offices had told the paper that "the public does not have the right to see specific permits an individual has been issued, the types of handguns a person possesses or the number of guns he or she owns," the statement said. "Had we been able to obtain those records, we would have published them."

    The map came about in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, The Journal News said.

    "In the past week, conversation on our opinion pages and on our website, LoHud.com, has been keenly focused on gun control," the newspaper's editor and vice president, CynDee Royle, said in a statement Tuesday.

    The names and addresses of the two counties' permit-holding residents were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The website notes that the map does not indicate whether the residents own handguns, only that they are legally able to, and that the data do not pertain to rifles or shotguns, which can be bought without a permit.

    Still, hundreds of residents were shocked to see their information posted without their being notified. Some said the map would prompt burglaries because thieves are now aware of where weapons might be found.

    "Now everyone knows where the legal guns are kept, a valuable piece of information for criminals," a commenter wrote. "Why don't you do something helpful, like trying to find out where the illegal guns are kept?"

    A great majority of readers commenting at CNN.com were opposed to the newspaper's move, but some defended it on the grounds that the public has a right to know who might own weapons.

    One commenter wrote: "If you're a gun owner it's a matter of public record. If you're embarrassed by your gun, get rid of it. I have a car and a house -- they're no secret. People contact me all the time trying to sell me stuff. I don't expect a right to privacy for these things."

    Another wrote, "Every gun manufactured, transferred, and sold should be on the internet, all on one website, including date of purchase, current owner, stored location, and gun license number."

    Several Twitter commenters also came out in support in tweets to CNN:

    -- "The gun permit maps are an effective way of showing how horribly widespread gun ownership is."

    -- "please thank them. This could be a turning point. I do not want my daughter playing in a house with guns."

    -- "LOVE the Gun License map! Excellent information to anyone concerned with who they live around!"

    The Journal News argued that residents have a right to access information regarding weapon holders in Westchester and Rockland communities.

    "Our readers are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods," Royle said in her statement.

    In an article about the uproar, The Journal News says many of the thousands of people who "have taken to their computers and phones in rage" live outside the counties covered by the map.

    In searching through hundreds of comments listed on the website, CNN did not immediately see any in support of the newspaper's decision to publish the interactive map.

    The Journal News said it published an article in 2006 that received similar responses, but this time around, social media spread the story far and wide.

    In 2007, roanoke.com, the website of The Roanoke Times, published a list of Virginians licensed to carry concealed weapons, and then deleted it the next day. The paper explained that the list, originally published as part of an opinion column, was removed "out of concern that it might include names that should not have been made public."

    The Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, notes that some other news agencies have published various types of databases as well.

    "Publishing gun owners' names makes them targets for theft or public ridicule. It is journalistic arrogance to abuse public record privilege, just as it is to air 911 calls for no reason or to publish the home addresses of police or judges without cause," Al Tompkins, a Poynter senior faculty member, said in a statement Wednesday. "Unwarranted publishing of the names of permitted owners just encourages gun owners to skip the permitting."
    Newspaper sparks outrage for publishing names, addresses of gun permit holders - CNN.com
    Last edited by GloriaInTX; 12-27-2012 at 12:38 PM.
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    I don't know how I feel about it. On one hand, I suppose that gun ownership is a matter of public record. It's very easy to find out other matters of public record, such as property sales, marriage licenses, et cetera. So anyone who thought that their gun ownership was "private" was mistaken.

    Having said that, I can certainly understand that even with matters of public record, you do not expect to see them published in the paper or on an interactive map. If my local paper published a map that shows my name and address, I would be perturbed, so I do have sympathy for them. I didn't like it when that group sent out a list of my neighbors and whether or not we all voted in the past several elections, and that is public record as well (I assume.)

    I was a little surprised by the gun owner's fears though - I would have assumed that given their stance on why we should all carry guns every place we go to deter crime, I would assume that gun owners would have said that now the criminals know whose houses NOT to burgle...since now they know who will shoot them on sight.
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    Posting Addict boilermaker's Avatar
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    As a matter of public record, I don't see this is as such a big deal. Not everyone loves the information available to the general public, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't share it (example, I work for a public university and you can look up everyone's salaries online. It ticks people off that it readily available.....and annually published in the newspaper.)

    If anything, I would think non gun owners would be annoyed that their houses could be selected based on the lack of weapons in the home.....
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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boilermaker View Post
    If anything, I would think non gun owners would be annoyed that their houses could be selected based on the lack of weapons in the home.....
    They are ....

    Some critics felt the Journal News article put people in danger. "Do you fools realize that you also made a map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns in them to protect themselves? What a bunch of liberal boobs you all are," one commenter wrote on the newspaper's website. Others worried that the names would expose law enforcement officials. "You have judges, policemen, retired policemen, FBI agents — they have permits. Once you allow the public to see where they live, that puts them in harm’s way," Paul Piperato, the Rockland county clerk, told Journal News reporter Worley.
    New York Journal News Publishes Gun Owners' Names In Westchester, Rockland Counties

    There are also many reasons that people get guns for protection, like abused women who now have their names and addresses published.

    Fountain disagreed on Thursday, and argued that she could have published the number of gun permits in the counties instead. “But the fact that they put the addresses — I’ve received emails from abused women who were under protective order and in hiding, and they’re terribly afraid that now their names and addresses are all over the Internet and accessible through that map,” he said.
    New York Journal News Publishes Gun Owners' Names In Westchester, Rockland Counties
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    While it is a matter of public record I don't like the intent behind it. The singling out of people who are doing something legal is frightening to me. What could be next? Taking receipts and publishing those that smoke? Buy alcohol? Second hand smoke and potentially driving drunk are also a concern are they not?

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    Damn those pesky amendments.

    It's public record. Our newspapers publish many things that are a matter of public record including:

    Home sales
    - seller
    - buyer
    - address
    - square footage
    - purchase price

    You know this is just an invitation for burglers to go stake out property to watch the new owners move in so they can steal all their stuff.

    If you know where to look, you would be amazed at all of the information you have access to. Some people want to know; some don't.

    Still, hundreds of residents were shocked to see their information posted without their being notified. Some said the map would prompt burglaries because thieves are now aware of where weapons might be found.
    Theives are now aware of where the weapons might be found? (A) This is public record; they could look it up on their own and target those houses. (B) Isn't the point of owning a gun to prevent becoming a victim of violence? Perhaps would-be rapists will think twice about targeting your house.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    They are ....



    New York Journal News Publishes Gun Owners' Names In Westchester, Rockland Counties

    There are also many reasons that people get guns for protection, like abused women who now have their names and addresses published.



    New York Journal News Publishes Gun Owners' Names In Westchester, Rockland Counties

    I thought the current position is that we need MORE law-abiding citizens with guns. Look at all those little dots in such a small area - I know I'll feel safe living there.

    People's names and addresses already are a matter of public record. If an abuser had been unsuccessful in finding his victim until this interactive map, now he knows she's armed and ready.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica80 View Post
    While it is a matter of public record I don't like the intent behind it. The singling out of people who are doing something legal is frightening to me. What could be next? Taking receipts and publishing those that smoke? Buy alcohol? Second hand smoke and potentially driving drunk are also a concern are they not?
    I agree with this. As long as it is legal, I don't understand the purpose of publishing lists. It doesn't sit well with me.

    Don't get me wrong - I think that gun and ammo purchases should be tracked, but by the government for law enforcement purposes, not just as a public list for any looky-loo that wants to know.

    And again, I know that all of this is a matter of public record anyway, which means that if I (or a criminal) wants to know which houses have gun owners, we could find out that info easily enough on our own. But, I remember how I felt a little like my privacy was violated when that group was telling who in the neighborhood voted, so I can understand why this feels icky to gun owners.
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    I don't think anyone is disputing that it is public record. I know I'm not. To me, it is one thing to say that Jess bought a house on this date, paid this much, this is the address (which is all buried in the classified sections of our local papers) and putting a large article in one of the main section to clearly target those that own guns in the wake of a tragedy. I'm very anti gun as I've put forth in the last debate and while I know he was in the right to do this I still think there was no need of it.

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    I don't know where I stand on this. I will say that it bothers me that anyone can enter my address on google and see what I paid for my house, a picture of it, etc. It bothers me that our public teachers and government servants salaries are public, as I would hate it if people knew how much mu husband made. I can say though that I would like to know if the houses that my children are going to have guns. I don't know. I don't buy the argument that criminals are now going to target these houses with guns ~ don't all gun owners that their guns are securely locked up? I mean, they probably couldn't get them. And I don't feel less safe if someone saw that we didn't have a gun ~ most criminals are looking to rob houses when people are NOT in them ~ so none of that really bothers me. I guess I don't really know. Interested to read more of your thoughts.

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