Armed Guards Stationed at Newspaper Reporting Gun Ownership Info
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A New York newspaper that unleashed a public outcry after it published the names and addresses of residents with pistol permits is being protected by armed guards.
The guards have been posted at its White Plains headquarters and in a satellite office in West Nyack since last week, publisher Janet Hasson said. "The safety of my staff is my top priority," she told The New York Times.
In December, the Journal News published online maps with the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties, information it sought from public records after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The newspaper's database, which included an interactive map on the Gannet Co.-owned newspaper's website lohud.com, sparked a torrent of criticism from across the country. Some said the publication was an invasion of privacy and could potentially put gun owners at risk. Others compared it to lists of sexual predators or other criminals, and said it was tantamount to presenting gun permit holders as wrongdoers.
Hasson said the newspaper knew the publication would be controversial, but that "we felt sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings."
Neighboring Putnam County this week rejected the Journal's request for permit data, after earlier saying it needed more time to compile the information. The newspaper hasn't responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press on the withholding.
Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant cited safety as his reason for not complying.
"Our world today is far different than it was only a few years ago," Sant said in a statement, explaining that the Internet and social media make it easy for personal information to be exposed.
As an example of the risks he considered, Sant said he was contacted by a significant number of permit holders who have protection orders against other individuals and now own guns to protect themselves.
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell supported Sant's denial. A news conference to discuss the move was slated for later Wednesday.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.