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State Senator: Removal Of Gun Owner Map Is A ‘Huge Win’

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

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

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PATTERSON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York State Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson) called the decision by the Journal News Media Group to remove a map of gun permits in Westchester and Rockland counties a “huge win.”

As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, the Web site produced a storm of outrage from gun owners for the map. On Friday, just days after the state enacted a new law that allows privacy for permit holders, the information came down.

“It’s a huge win – not just from the Second Amendment perspective, but from a privacy perspective – to actually have statewide legislation that comprehensively will make sure that nobody like the Journal News will ever be able to do such a boneheaded maneuver again,” said Ball, who strongly criticized the move to publish the permit map.

Gun rights activists had complained that the map could guide burglars to their homes, and Ball said some gun owners were threatened.

“It was a boneheaded maneuver that really created a public safety nightmare,” he said. “We had correction officers who had been threatened by criminals that they were going to go after their families; victims of domestic violence whose stalkers and abusers are back after this information was exposed the day before Christmas; and also a rash of burglaries, so I’m glad that they woke up.”

“In one incident last weekend, a home on Davis Avenue in White Plains was burglarized by suspects who allegedly went straight for the gun safe, but could not get it open. Ball said the map was likely to blame for the burglary.

In announcing Friday that the map was coming down, Journal News Media Group president and publisher Janet Hasson said the new law does not require removing the data, but “doing so complies with its spirit.”

But Ball said the Journal News might be liable for some of the incidents that can be attributed to the map.

“I believe that the Journal News certainly may not have listened to the public outcry — which was huge – but were more worried that they’re going to be held legally responsible for some of these violent acts and the burglaries,” he said.

The Journal News had published interactive maps on its LoHud.com site pinpointing thousands of permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. By late Friday, the maps 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.

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.”

The Journal News published the map, in response to the Newtown school shootings in Connecticut.

The Journal News had planned to release a similar map for Putnam County, but the County Clerk Dennis Sant refused to release names and addresses.

The Web site Gawker also published a 446-page list of licensed gun owners for New York City – including only names and not addresses. The list drew consternation from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

“I think the rules for getting a gun need to be tougher, but if you meet the rules, and you get a license in the legal way, and you have that license, I don’t think that should be printed in a newspaper,” she said.

Do you think it was a good idea to take the map down? Share your thoughts in the comments section below….

(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.)