NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s the First Amendment versus the Second Amendment, free speech versus gun rights, after a website exposed names and addresses of people with permits for handguns in some northern suburbs.
In response to the Newtown school shootings in Connecticut, the Journal News has revealed who has gun permits in Westchester and Rockland counties.
The reaction to the project, which includes an article and interactive map that reveals the names and addresses of people licensed to own handguns, is mixed.
“I definitely think it’s a beneficial tool to have,”one man said.
“They ought to publish the criminal’s names who’ve committed gun violence,” another man said.
“I think it’s a bit disingenuous of the Journal News to say that they are just giving information out here,” Syracuse University’s Hub Brown said. “They were taking a position on guns.”
Following the Newtown school shootings, reporters obtained the information by filing a Freedom of Information Act, but on “CBS News This Morning” John Miller said many of these guns belong to law enforcement officers.
“If you just take Rockland County, 8,000 either active or retired NYPD officers live there,” Miller said. “Within the law enforcement community they’re saying, ‘In the law of unintended consequences you’re giving people a map to our names and home addresses that’s searchable.’”
On a single residential block in Yonkers, four homes show up on the map indicating the residents have a permit for a handgun.
One woman who lives on the street said her neighbors who obtained permits shouldn’t be exposed.
“Most people who have gone through the process have guns and they’re responsible with them…I think that’s not good,” Sarah DeBlois told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
The gun permit information is public record, but posting it has sparked quite a public debate.
“I think it was a very irresponsible thing for the newspaper to do. They were telling burglars ‘Go to the house next door. They’re not likely to have a gun because they don’t have a permit'” said Larry Pratt with the group Gun Owners of America.
Aiello reported that in his Westchester neighborhood, even people who think it was a bad idea to publish this information are using the online map to see if their friends and neighbors have handgun permits.
Some are using the map to check, for instance, on addresses where their kids go on playdates.
“It feels a little awkward. Whenever there’s a weapon in the house, there’s always the possibility something could happen, something could go wrong,” Yonkers resident Miguel Cuevas told Aiello.
No gun permit owners in Westchester wanted to talk about the Journal News’ map.
The Journal News responded in a statement saying, “Sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.”
However, some worry it could make the situation worse.
“It’s not that they can’t publish these kinds of things. The question is what do you publish, at what time, and how does it help your readers? And I don’t know if this does,” Brown said.
“If you’re a robber looking to burglarize a home where you might steal guns now you a have a map,” Miller said.
The Journal News said it’s planning to release a similar map for Putnam County once it retrieves the information requested.
The online map only tracks handguns because state law doesn’t require permits for rifles and shotguns.
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