Convicts have seized upon the interactive map containing the names and addresses of gun owners in two New York counties to threaten the officers that guard them in prison. The controversial online gun map was published by the Journal News from data obtained via the Freedom of Information law that governs public records.
The Newsday newspaper reported on the threats to the corrections officers:
“Inmates at the Rockland County jail are taunting corrections officers by saying they know the guards’ home addresses — information they got from the list published by Westchester-based newspaper, Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco said.
” ‘Since about 9:30 this morning, I’ve been in a meeting with my corrections officers and their unions. They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That’s not acceptable to me,” Falco said at a news conference Friday morning in New City, where local leaders condemned the list.’ “
The published list also apparently outed the names and addresses of NYPD officers who live in the area, thereby putting them and their families at risk.
The Journal News published the names and addresses of about 44,000 gun license holders in Westchester and Rockland counties outside of New York City on December 23. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in New York plan to submit legislation to keep these records confidential. In the meantime, Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant has refused to comply with the Journal News‘ FOIA request.
Whatever the stated or unstated intent of the Journal News in putting this information into the public domain, it may have had additional unintended consequences, according to Newsday:
“Legis. Aron Wieder (D-Spring Valley) called the publication of the list ‘irresponsible journalism’ and said he now fears for his safety because the map broadcast that he does not have a gun license. At the news conference Friday morning, he handed a $150 certified check and a completed pistol permit application to Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato.
” ‘I never owned a gun but now I have no choice,’ Wieder said. ‘I have been exposed as someone that has no gun. And I’ll do anything, anything to protect my family.’ “
FNC also notes that paper’s apparent gun control agenda may have had a huge backlash:
“While the paper ostensibly sought to make a point about gun proliferation in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the effort may have backfired. A blogger reacted with a map showing where key editorial staffers live, and some outraged groups have called for a boycott of parent company Gannett’s national advertisers. Ironically, the newspaper has now stationed armed guards outside at least one of its offices.”
Several reformed criminals have also publicly stated that the gun map — which indicates which households are or aren’t armed — would have made their job easier.
Do you think the Journal News put its ideology above public safety?