At the end of December, the Journal News published a detailed map cataloging all of the handgun permit owners in Westchester and Rockland counties, a move that caused much controversy among both gun rights and privacy advocates who felt the map placed figurative targets on the highlighted households. This evening, the publication announced it was was pulling the map, but claimed it was due to New York State’s new gun control law, passed at the start of the week, rather than a response to criticism.
“Today The Journal News has removed the permit data from lohud.com. Our decision to do so is not a concession to critics that no value was served by the posting of the map in the first place,” Journal News publisher Janet Hasson explained. “On the contrary, we’ve heard from too many grateful community members to consider our decision to post information contained in the public record to have been a mistake. Nor is our decision made because we were intimidated by those who threatened the safety of our staffers. We know our business is a controversial one, and we do not cower.”
Because handgun permit information is now classified as private information, not subject to Freedom of Information Law requests, Ms. Hasson said that the map simply lost value to the newspaper’s readers.
“But the database has been public for 27 days and we believe those who wanted to view it have done so already,” she continued. “As well, with the passage of time, the data will become outdated and inaccurate….[W]e will keep a snapshot of our map–with all its red dots– on our website to remind the community that guns are a fact of life we should never forget.”
Update (7:12 p.m.): Senator Greg Ball, who has waged a passionate crusade against the Journal News’ map, released a statement entitled, “VICTORY AGAINST IDIOCY AT JOURNAL NEWS”:
“Thank God the Journal News has finally realized the error in their judgment and done the right thing. Whether they did this responding to the public’s outcry or because they were simply fearful of getting sued due to the rash of burglaries and threats against law enforcement and victims of domestic violence, we will never know. Regardless, I am proud to have passed legislation keeping the Journal News from doing this ever again and proud to have been shoulder to shoulder with thousands of residents who were dealt a crappy hand by the eggheads at the Journal News. I look forward to them creating an interactive map of level three sexual predators, rapists and felons with illegal gun purchases, but I won’t hold my breath.”