Sharp criticism after New York newspaper publishes names of local gun owners
The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain information on registered handgun owners in the area. Many owners and other critics are outraged that criminals now know where the guns are – and aren't.
(Page 2 of 2)
“This is CRAZY!!” one reader wrote on the newspaper’s website. “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!!!”Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures American Gun Culture
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“This is precisely why gun owners reject the registration of rifles and shotguns and quite frankly handguns,” wrote another. “First it's Registration and Intimidation. Then it's Confiscation, or Incarceration & Genocide soon follows. Beware. It's the norm in world history and not an anomaly! This is how it starts!”
One woman wrote, "I'd rather have a gun owner as my neighbor then a journalist, one is far more responsible than the other."
The newspaper said it received hundreds of phone calls “claiming publication of the database put their safety at risk or violated their privacy.”
“Others claimed publication was illegal,” the newspaper reported on Christmas Day, a few days after the initial story and map were published. “Many of the callers were vitriolic and some threatened members of the newspaper staff.”
Dave Triglianos, a certified gun instructor who owns an AR-15 rifle, told the newspaper that information about his firearms “should be absolutely private.”
“Why do my neighbors need to know that?” he asked. “I am not a threat to my neighbors. I don’t pose a physical threat to anyone.”
On the other hand, said John Thompson, “I would love to know if someone next to me had guns.”
“It makes me safer to know so I can deal with that,” Mr. Thompson, who works for a YMCA group that counsels youths against gun violence, told The Journal News. “I might not choose to live there.”
Strong reaction did not come as a surprise to the publication’s editors and business executives.
“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,” CynDee Royle, editor and vice president for news, said in a statement.
“People are concerned about who owns guns and how many of them there are in their neighborhoods,” Ms. Royle said. “Our Freedom of Information request also sought specifics on how many and what types of weapons people owned. That portion of the request was denied.”
The newspaper felt obliged to add this “editor’s note” to the original story: “Journal News reporter Dwight R. Worley owns a Smith & Wesson 686 .357 Magnum and has had a residence permit in New York City for that weapon since February 2011.”