As the uproar continues over the wisdom of The Journal News posting an online, interactive map displaying the names, addresses and the locations of the homes of Westchester and Rockland County’s legal gun owners, a second law abiding gun owner’s home was robbed and more legally registered weapons were stolen.
Local residents were outraged when the map first appeared in late December, 2012 as a response to the Newtown shootings. The local paper defended their action by stating the information was available to anyone under the Freedom Of Information Act and claimed their readers “are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods.”
The Journal News has a long history of advocating for strict gun control. Despite their militant stance against the Second Amendment, the paper did not hesitate to hire armed guards for their reporters and offices after they received a massive amount of negative feedback for publishing the map.
In the most recent burglary, the thieves used a ladder to enter the home of Clarkstown, New York resident who was listed on the interactive map as a licensed gun owner. They ransacked the house, forced open two safes and carted off a third. Among the weapons stolen was a Colt 45 revolver and a .22 Iver Johnson handgun, along with the two pistol permits required to own them.
The Clarkstown Police Department is proceeding with the investigation and they have stated that at the present time there is no connection between the robbery and The Journal News map.
Sgt Joanne Fratianni spoke on behalf of the Clarkstown Police Department:
“The burglary is still under investigation, and there are no facts to support this correlation at this time. If the investigation develops further information, it will be released accordingly.”
The paper is understandably concerned about the possibility that they may be liable for millions of dollars in damages if a court is able to tie the map directly to a burglary. As a result, some critics are already speculating about a conspiracy between The Journal News and the Clarkstown Police Department to suppress evidence in the case.
One conservative blog, The Last Resistance, had this to say about the burglary and the behavior of The Journal News:
“Are the police in that area protecting The Journal News? All it takes is one piece of evidence linking a break-in to the online posting and The Journal News is ripe for a lawsuit from one or all of the victims. Would the newspaper like ALL of their names and home addresses posted online along with the knowledge of something valuable that they own like a painting, jewelry or expensive car?”
“Many people, including myself, predicted that those gun permit holders identified by The Journal News would be victims of break-ins from criminals looking to steal guns. Now, there have been at least two such incidences reported and mostly likely, many more to come. Will it take someone being shot and killed to bring the issue to a legal head? I wonder if the newspaper’s insurance will cover all of the damages they could be facing once the lawsuits start getting filed?”
In response to the controversy over the map, the New York State Legislature in Albany passed a 120 day moratorium prohibiting the disclosure of information about New York’s legal gun owners. Despite being forced to remove the map from their various websites and media, The Journal News remained defiant to the end, claiming a major victory for families and children.
“Today The Journal News has removed the permit data from lohud.com. 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. On the contrary, we’ve heard from too many grateful community members to consider our decision to post information contained in the public record to have been a mistake. 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.”
Janet Hasson, the publisher of The Journal News, sees her newspaper’s questionable behavior as serving the public good, but many American’s consider her publication’s actions to be an outright attempt to bully, intimidate and persecute legal gun owners. Perhaps the circulation figures of The Journal News in the months ahead will be the best indicator of who was right in this contentious disagreement over First and Second Amendment rights.