Monday, December 31, 2012

New York Newspaper Publishes Home Addresses of Gun Permit Holders in Lower Hudson River Valley

Under the guise of public disclosure, a White Plains, NY-based newspaper has published the names and home addresses of handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties north of New York City, complete with an interactive map showing where they live.

The same publication- the White Plains Journal News- is also promising to publish additional addresses of permit holders in nearby Putnam county. The move has created a good deal of animosity among Empire State gun owners who say that the newspaper's publishing their names and home addresses online is a violation of their privacy. According to some of the comments left on the newspaper's website, many names that show up are out of date by at least a decade.

The editorial board of the Journal News defended the decision to run the article and post the accompanying map on the website, saying the information was made available to the public by state law and multiple Freedom of Information act requests. The Dec22nd piece ran shortly after the Sandy Hook schoolhouse massacre just across the state line in Newtown, CT [solidifying many predictions from gun owners on how the atrocity would be leveraged against law-abiding gun owners by pro-gun control politicians and media figures- NANESB!]. It's also worth pointing out that all the names on the list had purchased their respective firearms in full compliance with New York state law, yet by the author's own admission the entire premise of the article was to 'warn' people about the very same law-abiding gun owners- maybe these 'journalists' can 'warn' the public about which homes have large collections of jewelry or coins next.

A number of gun owners have suggested a boycott of not only the Journal News and their advertisers, but other publications owned by Journal News' parent company- Gannett Co, Inc [NYSE- GCI]. An estimated 44,000 people in the three counties are said to have their names published- although there is no data available for rifles or shotguns. Within hours, some had reportedly retaliated against the Journal News by posting the name and home addresses and phone numbers of the editor, Gannett CEO and reporter online. A New York state senator has also proposed making permit information throughout the state available only to law enforcement officers carrying out an active investigation.

In March 2007, a columnist for Virginia's Roanoke Times published a list of names and addresses for concealed handgun carry permits in the New River valley, comparing permit holders to sex offenders. The Roanoke Times website took down the list within a matter of hours after receiving complaints. In 2011, an Associated Press reporter sought to obtain names and hometowns of Firearm Owner's Identification Card (FOID) by filing suit against the Illinois State Police. The state police pointed out that they sometimes receive Freedom of Information Act requests from inmates about the FOID status of corrections officers, their victims or retired policemen. In December 2011, a Peoria County Circuit Court judge ruled that the FOID information would be exempt from any Freedom of Information Act requests.

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