Earlier we covered the outrage that erupted when a New York newspaper published an online map showing the names and addresses of people with handgun permits in two counties. Critics said the map endangered the public and violated gun owners’ right to privacy.
The Journal News’ publisher defended the map, which was created using information obtained from public records requests. It accompanied a story about the debate over how much the public should know about gun ownership.
Now another New York county is refusing to provide gun ownership information to the newspaper. Officials in Putnam County are refusing The Journal News’ public records request even though a state official said the county is breaking the law.
“I’m proud to stand with Putnam County and proud that Putnam won’t be releasing its pistol permit records,” said state Sen. Greg Ball in a Journal News article. “The asinine editors at the Journal News have gone out of their way to place a virtual scarlet letter on law abiding firearm owners throughout the region and I thank God that Putnam County has a clerk with the guts to stand up and draw the line here in Putnam County.”
Not surprisingly, Journal News President and Publisher Janet Hasson had a different view.
“We believe the law is clear that this is public information and the residents of Putnam County are entitled to see it,” she was quoted as saying. “We’re troubled that county officials have apparently switched their position since we first requested the information.”
Meanwhile, The Journal News continues to deal with a strong backlash over its map. On Wednesday, Jan. 2, policeinvestigated the contents of a suspicious envelope sent to the newspaper. The white powder in the envelope was found to be non-toxic.
Fellow journalists are also questioning the map. Washington Post blogger Eric Wemple wrote about how he thinks the Journal News erred.