An upstate New York paper, the Journal News (Lohud.com), owned by Gannet, published an interactive map listing the names and addresses of every Licensed Pistol Permit holder in New York's Westchester and Rockland counties.
The interactive map allows readers to zoom in on a location and have a gun owner's first, last names and address appear on a pop-up.
The Gateway Pundit is reporting that the website will post similar information about another county shortly. ABC News identifies the third county as Putnam County.
The Journal News said:
"The map indicates the addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. Each dot represents an individual permit holder licensed to own a handgun — a pistol or revolver. The data does not include owners of long guns — rifles or shotguns — which can be purchased without a permit. Being included in this map does not mean the individual at a specific location owns a weapon, just that they are licensed to do so.
"Data for all permit categories, unrestricted carry, premises, business, employment, target and hunting, is included, but permit information is not available on an individual basis."
The Journal News has come under severe criticism after gun owners in the area realized that their personal information had been made public. The Inquisitr reports that the map only gives information about residents with permits for handguns. Non-permit firearms, including rifles, are not included.
According to The Inqusitr, because permits are issued for life, both active and non-active permit holders in the last five years were represented on the Rockland County map. The map listed non-active gun owners who have either died, moved or have not updated their records. Westchester County, however, requires permit owners to renew every five years.
Journal News submitted a Freedom of Information request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that allows anyone to request access to declassified information from the federal government. The US government disclosed the records under the FOIA.
Breitbart.com's Ben Shapiro, protesting the action, wrote: "The newspaper didn't even feel it necessary to publish a rationale for that violation of privacy – publishing the names and addresses of gun owners makes them more vulnerable to robbery when they aren't at home, since criminals will know where the guns are."
The Gateway Pundit comments: "This is a massive privacy breach and the latest in a series of over the top emotional reactions to the latest shooting tragedy in Sandy Hook CT meant to intimidate the lawful and prey on peoples fears to exploit the gun grabbing agenda."
According to ABC News, Journal News said, in a statement, that their readers “are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhood. We obtained the names and addresses of Westchester and Rockland residents who are licensed to own handguns through routine Freedom of Information law requests. We also requested information on the number and types of guns owned by permit holders, but officials in the county clerks offices in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties maintained that those specifics were not public record."
But many are outraged at what they consider a breach of their privacy. AIM Global Security argues that the action "does nothing to safeguard the law abiding from the criminal element," and urged readers to cancel their subscription with Journal News, saying: "let their advertisers know how you feel about it. This is the power of the 1st Amendment in your hands that empowers you to preserve the safeguard afforded us by the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights."
But Journal News argues that it believes people have a right to know which of their neighbors own firearms, for reason of their own security too.
According to ABC News, the interactive map has sparked more than 500 comments from readers within 24 hours of its publication.
Many commenters expressed outrage:
Curtis Maenza: “This is CRAZY!! why in the world would you post every licensed gun owner information?? What do you hope to accomplish by doing this. This is the type of thing you do for sex offenders not law abiding gun owners. What next? should i hang a flag outside my house that says I own a gun? I am canceling my subscription with your paper today!!!"
George Thompson: “How about a map of the editorial staff and publishers of Gannett and Journal News with names and addresses of their families…"The Examiner reports that Dwight R. Worley, who wrote the Journal News article, noted: "Anyone can find out the names and addresses of handgun owners in any county with a simple Freedom of Information Law request."