Guns for me but not for thee
Just before Christmas, the local newspaper in New York’s tony Westchester and Rockland Counties decided to respond to the horrific shootings in nearby Newton, Conn., with its own version of insanity.
The Journal News published an interactive “gun map” showing the names and addresses of thousands of local residents who have handgun permits. The article’s headline read, “The Gun Owner Next Door: What You Don’t Know about the Weapons in Your Neighborhood.” The paper explained that it had obtained the records by filing Freedom of Information Act requests with local officials. Publisher Janet Hasson defended the paper’s move by stating, “We felt that sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.”
Judging from the outraged response, most of the paper’s readers and many local officials disagree. Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant, announcing he would not follow the lead of officials in Westchester and Rockland Counties, has refused to turn over records to the paper. By plotting the addresses of the homes with guns on Google Maps, the paper has effectively provided thieves with detailed directions to homes without guns — thereby “endangering our citizens” by making some homes more inviting to robbers, Sant said. County executive Mary Ellen Odell called the publication “reckless.” One high-ranking official in Westchester County I spoke with notes that the newspaper has put legitimate gun owners on an equal footing with sex offenders and other criminals. “Maybe I’d like to see a map published of those accused of defrauding the county government, but I’d never expect a paper to print one,” he says.
Some local officials say that anyone who has had contact with ex-criminals — including prosecutors, judges, jurors, and police — could feel threatened now. Aron Wieder, a Democratic county legislator in Rockland County, fears for his safety now that people know he doesn’t own a handgun. ...