The Journal News, a small time daily news publication in a suburb north of New York, may have got more than it bargained for when two weeks ago, the paper published the names and addresses of handgun permit holders.
A shocking total of 33,614 — in two modestly sized New York suburban counties, Westchester and Rockland,
The Journal published maps of their locations online. The maps, which appeared with the article “The Gun Owner Next Door: What You Don’t Know About the Weapons in Your Neighborhood,” received more than one million views on the Web site of The Journal News — more than twice as many as the paper’s previous record, about a councilman who had two boys arrested for running a cupcake stand.
But the article, which left gun owners feeling vulnerable to harassment or break-ins, also drew outrage from across the country. Calls and e-mails grew so threatening that the paper’s president and publisher, Janet Hasson, hired armed guards to monitor the newspaper’s headquarters in White Plains and its bureau in West Nyack, N.Y.
33,614 registered gun owners is roughly the same as every single Gozitan male regardless of age being handed a gun and licence. With estimates of unregistered guns in the area reportedly at 17,000, in other words- the whole population of Ħal Qormi, wholesome suburbia seems a little less wholesome.
meanwhile in crazy land…
Personal information about editors and writers at the paper has been posted online, including their home addresses and information about where their children attended school; some reporters have received notes saying they would be shot on the way to their cars; bloggers have encouraged people to steal credit card information of Journal News employees; and two packages containing white powder have been sent to the newsroom and a third to a reporter’s home (all were tested by the police and proved to be harmless).
The decision to report and publish the data, taken from publicly available records, happened within a week of the school massacre in nearby Newtown, Conn. On Dec. 17, Dwight R. Worley, a tax reporter, returned from trying to interview the families of victims in Newtown with an idea to obtain and publish local gun permit data. He discussed his idea with his immediate editor, Kathy Moore, who in turn talked to her bosses, according to CynDee Royle, the paper’s editor.
By Dec. 26, employees had begun receiving threatening calls and e-mails, and by the next day, reporters not involved in the article were being threatened. The reaction did not stop at the local paper: Gracia C. Martore, the chief executive of Gannett, also received threatening messages.
Many of the threats, Ms. Hasson said, were coming from across the country, and not from the paper’s own community. But local gun owners and supporters are encouraging an advertiser boycott of The Journal News. Scott Sommavilla, president of the 35,000-member Westchester County Firearm Owners Association, said 44,000 people had downloaded a list of advertisers from his group’s Web site. But he emphasized that his association would never encourage any personal threats. Appealing to advertisers, he said, is the best way for gun owners to express their disapproval of the article.
44,000- That’s the same as the whole population of Birkirkara downloading the list, TWICE.
“They’re really upset about it,” Mr. Sommavilla said. “They’re afraid for their families.”
At the same time, Ms. Hasson has been trying to calm the nerves of her family after photographs of the home she is renting and references to her adult children were put online.
“They are concerned about my safety,” she said about her children. “But they are very supportive.”
So far there has been no reported violence towards any members of Journal News, Zero, that’s the same as the population of Smart City.