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Journal News Removes Controversial Pistol Permit Data From Website

Journal News Interactive Gun Map (credit: lohud.com)

Journal News Interactive Gun Map (credit: lohud.com)

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A suburban New York City newspaper has removed the names and addresses of residents with pistol permits from its website.

Publication of the permit data following last month’s school shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn., produced a storm of outrage from gun owners.

It also quickly resulted in a new state measure meant to protect permit holders’ privacy.

The president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group announced the move Friday.

Janet Hasson said the new law does not require removing the data, but “doing so complies with its spirit.”

The Journal News had published interactive maps on its LoHud.com site pinpointing thousands of permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. The maps remained online late Friday but could no longer be manipulated to find names and addresses.

Hasson said in a letter to readers that “hundreds of threats were made to Journal News staffers” in the aftermath of the controversy, but that those threats were not the deciding factor in the move.

“Our decision to do so is not a concession to critics that no value was served by the posting of the map in the first place,” Hasson wrote. “Nor is our decision made because we were intimidated by those who threatened the safety of our staffers. We know our business is a controversial one, and we do not cower.”

Instead, Hasson said because the database was public for 27 days, the paper believes “those who wanted to view it have done so already.”

Local blogger Robert Cox posted the names and numbers of Journal News employees in retaliation.

Cox said he did it because he called what the paper did irresponsible.

“This went too far and I think it did expose the people to some risk,” Cox told 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten.

“We had a case in White Plains, New York, which may or may not have had something to do with the map. But it was somebody that was on the map and their guns were stolen. My worry was always that this was basically a potential shopping list for people who are looking to acquire guns, criminals,” Cox said.

Cox said despite the Journal News’ decision, his map won’t be coming down.

“They started the fight, but they don’t get to decide when it ends,” Cox said. “Our map is still making the same point that it was always making, which is that we think what they did was wrong.”

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)