A suburban New York newspaper that outragedÂ gun owners by posting the names and addresses of residents with handgun permitsÂ removed the information from its website Friday.
The Journal News took down the data justÂ three days after the state enacted a gun control law that included privacyÂ provisions for permit holders.
The provisions were a reaction to interactiveÂ maps the newspaper published on LoHud.com that pinpointed thousands of permitÂ holders in Westchester and Rockland counties.
Gun rights activists had immediatelyÂ complained that permit owners’ privacy was being violated. They said the mapÂ could guide burglars to their homes while police groups claimed the map couldÂ lead ex-convicts to the officers who had put them away.
The addresses of some Journal NewsÂ staffersÂ were posted online, and threats were called in to theÂ newspaper’s offices. TheÂ newspaper hired armed guards in response.
Janet Hasson, president and publisherÂ of TheÂ Journal News Media Group, said in an emailed statement, “WhileÂ the new law doesÂ not require us to remove the data, we believe thatÂ doing so complies with itsÂ spirit.”
She said the maps had been viewedÂ nearly 1.2Â million times since they were published Dec. 23. TheÂ newspaper sought theÂ records under the state Freedom of Information LawÂ after the Dec. 14 elementaryÂ school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where aÂ gunman who had killed his mother atÂ home killed 20 first-graders and six educators and then committedÂ suicide.
The maps remained online late Friday butÂ could no longer be manipulated to find names and addresses.
State Sen. Greg Ball, the most vocalÂ opponent of the posting, said, “Thank God The Journal News has finallyÂ realized the error in their judgment and done the right thing. … I amÂ proudÂ to have passed legislation keeping The Journal News from doingÂ this everÂ again.”
On Tuesday, as part of a gun controlÂ bill,Â the state Legislature passed and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed newÂ regulations thatÂ give permit holders several ways to opt out of theÂ public record.
Applicants can ask to be exemptedÂ becauseÂ they are police officers or served on criminal-case juries orÂ are victims ofÂ domestic violence. They also can just say they might beÂ subjected toÂ harassment.
Hasson said Friday, “One of our core missions as a newspaper is toÂ empowerÂ our readers with as much information as possible on the critical issues theyÂ face, and guns have certainly become a top issue since theÂ massacre in nearbyÂ Newtown, Conn.”
The paper caused a stir on December 23 whenÂ it listed thousands ofÂ pistol permit holders in suburban Westchester andÂ Rockland counties just north of New York City in an interactive map on itsÂ website.
Editor CarynÂ A. McBride hired gun-toting security guards to patrol the paper’s offices amid aÂ flurry of angry emails and phone calls in the following days.
The paper hired the increased security fromÂ RGA Investigations & Security, a firm based in New City that providesÂ services like protection and security guard certification, according to theÂ Times.
The news came just days after the JournalÂ News announced plans to publish an expanded list ofÂ even moreÂ permit-holding locals.
Along with an article entitled ‘TheÂ gunÂ owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in yourÂ neighborhood,’Â the Journal News mapÂ wasÂ compiled in response to the December 14Â shooting deaths of 20 children and sixÂ adults in Newtown, Connecticut,Â editors of the Gannett Corp.-owned newspaperÂ said.
The next batch of names will beÂ permitÂ holders in suburban Putnam County, New York, where the countyÂ clerk told theÂ newspaper it is still compiling information.
Some 44,000 people are licensed toÂ ownÂ pistols in the three counties, the newspaper said. Owners of riflesÂ andÂ shotguns do not need permits, the newspaper said.
The publication prompted outrage,Â particularly on social media sites, among gun owners.
‘Do you fools realize that you alsoÂ made aÂ map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no gunsÂ in them toÂ protect themselves?’ Rob Seubert of Silver Spring, Maryland,Â posted on theÂ newspaper’s web site. ‘What a bunch of liberal boobs youÂ all are.’
Republican state Senator Greg Ball of Patterson, New York, said he planned to introduce legislation to keepÂ permitÂ information private except to prosecutors and police.