The publication by The Journal News of the names and addresses of gun owners with pistol permits in Westchester County has prompted a New York state senator to suggest legislation to counter it. Greg Ball wants to make that information available only to law enforcement agencies.
St. Sen. Greg Ball (R- Brewster) says, "The asinine editors at the Journal News, have once again gone out of their way to place a virtual scarlet letter on law abiding firearm owners throughout the region."
Ball says the paper is treating law abiding citizens like sexual predators.
"This is clearly a violation of privacy, and needs to be corrected immediately," Ball says.
There is now a counter blog set up. It lists the home addresses and photos of employees of the Gannett-owned newspaper.
Christopher Fountain, who primarily covers real estate news on, For What It's Worth, published the names on Wednesday.
Even some anti-gun residents in Westchester were troubled by the Journal News making public the gun owners' home addresses.
Fox 5 News went to the Journal News' headquarters in White Plains and asked for an interview. A representative would only tell us off camera that the paper would not give an on-camera interview.
The publisher, Janet Hasson, did e-mail a statement, saying: "Frequently, the work of journalists is not popular. One of our roles is to report publicly available information on timely issues, even when unpopular. We knew publication of the database (as well as the accompanying article providing context) would be controversial, but we felt sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.
The 1,800-word story headlined, "The gun owner next door: What you don't know about the weapons in your neighborhood," said the information was sought after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., about 50 miles northeast of the paper's headquarters in White Plains. A gunman killed his mother, drove to an elementary school and massacred 20 first-graders and six adults, then shot himself. All the weapons used were legally owned by his mother.
The Journal News story includes comments from both sides of the gun-rights debate and presents the data as answering concerns of those who would like to know whether there are guns in their neighborhood. It reports that about 44,000 people in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties are licensed to own a handgun, and that rifles and shotguns can be purchased without a permit.
It was accompanied online by maps of the results for Westchester and Rockland counties; similar details had not yet been provided by Putnam County. A reader clicking on the maps can see the name and address of each pistol or revolver permit holder. Accompanying text states that inclusion does not necessarily mean that an individual owns a weapon, just who obtained a license.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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