A newspaper has removed an interactive online map of handgun permit holders in two New York counties that drew nationwide anger and prompted threats against its staff, the publisher said Friday.
The decision by the paper, The Journal News, to take the information off its Web site came in response to the passage of sweeping gun legislation in Albany this week, the publisher, Janet Hasson, said in a statement. “While the new law does not require us to remove the data, we believe that doing so complies with its spirit,” she said.
Legislators pushed to add the measure to the new law in response to the paper’s publication after an outcry from gun-rights advocates and some law enforcement groups.
“From the beginning it was irresponsible conduct from The Journal News,” said Roy T. Richter, the head of theCaptains Endowment Association, which represents the upper echelons of the New York Police Department. He said thousands of retired officers live in the two counties — Westchester and Rockland, just north of the city — and some objected to seeing their personal information published on the newspaper’s Web site.
“The problem is,” he said, “once you put things on the Internet, they’re stuck out there.”
The newspaper, which is based in White Plains, used public records to create the map, a clickable collection of the names and addresses of thousands of permit holders in the two counties. Since it first appeared in late December, the online map had been viewed nearly 1.2 million times, the paper said.
The paper received a flood of angry phone calls and letters, and opponents posted the home address of editors and other staff members online. The reaction prompted the paper to hire armed security for its headquarters and for a bureau in Rockland.
The new gun law, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed on Tuesday, includes a provision prohibiting the release of information on gun permit holders for 120 days, and it also allows those with permits already in the statewide database to request the removal of their names and addresses.
State Senator Greg Ball, a Putnam County Republican and a sponsor of the provision, applauded the map’s removal. “I am proud to have passed legislation keeping The Journal News from doing this ever again,” he said.
In a note to readers published on Friday, Ms. Hasson said the decision to remove the interactive map, which was posted in response to the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., was neither a concession to critics nor a response to threats. “We know our business is a controversial one, and we do not cower,” she said.
She said the paper would continue to pursue its request for permit records from Putnam County. Local officials have so far declined to release them.
Ms. Hasson said a snapshot of the map — with its dots visible but personal information absent — would also remain on the site, “to remind the community that guns are a fact of life we should never forget.” (ARTICLE)