Gannett's Journal-News in New York Defends Publishing Gun Permit Holders' Names and Addresses

Here's another entry for the "They can dish it out but can't take it" file.

Jammie Wearing Fool is reporting, with supporting links, that Editor CynDee Royle at the Journal News headquartered in White Plains, New York, which on Saturday, as noted on Monday at NewsBusters, published an interactive map showing the names and address of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland Counties, has taken down her Facebook page and made her Twitter account private (the latter may have been the case before the article was published). The paper has also recognized the outrage the published map cause, is offering a truly lame defense, and claims it didn't get everything it wanted (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

The Journal News/ assailed for publishing map of gun permit holders

Thousands of people, many from outside Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, have taken to their computers and phones in rage after The Journal News posted an online database of local gun permit holders.

The database, legally obtained from the county clerks’ offices through a Freedom of Information Act request made after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and eight adults dead, [1] has been called irresponsible, dangerous and leaning toward intimidation by several online pundits.

... Hundreds of callers have complained, claiming publication of the database put their safety at risk or violated their privacy. Others claimed publication was illegal. Many of the callers were vitriolic and some threatened members of the newspaper staff. [2]

“New York residents have the right to own guns with a permit and they also have a right to access public information,” said Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group.

Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Govenment (sic) and an expert in the state's Freedom of Information law, has said all government records and data are presumed public unless a specific statute bars their release. Names and addresses are specifically deemed public records, he said.

... This is not the first time The Journal News has been criticized for publishing information about gun permits. A similar story that ran in 2006 received similar responses, [3] although social media did not play as large a part in the spread of the story or of the complaints.

“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,” said CynDee Royle, [1] Editor and Vice President/News.

“People are concerned about who owns guns and how many of them there are in their neighborhoods. 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.” [4]


[1] (tagged twice) -- So they're admitting that this is more about capitalizing on a tragedy to drive an agenda than they are generating something in which people have a legitimate interest.

[2] -- Cry me a river. Threats, assuming that they go beyond cancelling subscriptions, are not good and to the extent they really occurred, shouldln't be made. But the paper has in essence threatened everyone in the two counties involved. First, gun owners now face a higher threat of criminals taking an interest in stealing their guns. Second, and I believe more important, those who don't have pistols have been identified, making them softer targets for criminals and more likely to become victims.

[3] -- So they make a habit of invading residents' property and putting their lives and safety in danger? Is there a good reason why anyone would subscribe or advertise with these creeps?

[4] -- I would not be surprised it they're still trying to get that level of detail. Wouldn't criminals looking to stoke their arsenals just love that?

Cross-posted at

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.