An article on the Journal News’s website LoHud.com has caused an outcry for featuring an interactive map of gun owners in New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties. The article, titled “The Gun Owner Next Door,” included a map detailing the names and addresses of local handgun permit-holders, represented by red dots on Google Maps. Navigating the map and finding gun owners in the listed neighborhoods is as easy as a click.
The information was obtained legally by the Journal News through Freedom of Information Act requests to the county clerk’s offices. However, the type of permit and handgun, as well as the number of handguns (or whether any firearms are possessed at listed residences at all), are not available for public viewing. Potential rifle and shotgun owners were also not listed, as permits are not required for owning or purchasing such firearms. Many have called publication of the map irresponsible, fearing it will serve as a resource for burglars by calling out specific residences to be targeted for firearm theft.
According to CNN, the article had generated 1,300 comments as of Christmas day, many of which were from gun owners listed on the map. Some readers felt discriminated against and targeted by the Journal News with a quite literal red dot over their home. One user commented, “I’d rather have a gun owner as my neighbor then a journalist, one is far more responsible then the other.” Not unsurprisingly, many have canceled their subscription to the newspaper.
Currently maps of Westchester and Rockland county’s gun owners are online, with Putnam county to be posted as soon as the information is available. The Journal News estimates there to be around 44,000 people registered to own a handgun in the area.