A local New York newspaper is drawing the ire of its readers after publishing an interactive map that shows the names and addresses of thousands of residents who have handgun permits.
The online map was published by The Journal News along with an article under the headline: "The gun owner next door: What you don't know about the weapons in your neighborhood."
The newspaper obtained, and then published, the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The article, in explaining the decision to publish the information, pointed to the school massacre in nearby Newtown, Conn., and the concerns of some residents about which of their neighbors might have firearms.
But readers swiftly condemned the move. They pointed out that the interactive map could make the gun owners a target, but also make clear to would-be robbers which homes do not contain a gun.
"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?" one reader wrote on Facebook.
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"You have just destroyed the privacy of these law abiding citizens and by releasing this list, you have equated them to that of sex offenders and murders," wrote another. "These are law abiding gun owners, they are no danger to anyone except for criminals. And with this information you have made them targets for both criminals and anti gun lobbyist who i am sure are going to treat them like monsters."
The newspaper, in a written statement, defended the decision to run the names.
"The massacre in Newtown remains top-of-mind for many of our readers," the statement said. "In the past week, conversation on our opinion pages and on our website, LoHud.com, has been keenly focused on gun control.
"Our readers are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods. We obtained the names and addresses of Westchester and Rockland residents who are licensed to own handguns through routine Freedom of Information law public-records requests."
The map showed the locations of pistol permit holders -- though did not specify whether those shown actually owned a weapon. Since rifles and shotguns can be bought without a permit, that information was not included.
The newspaper separately noted that the reporter on the story "owns a Smith & Wesson 686 .357 Magnum and has had a residence permit in New York City for that weapon since February 2011."