New York Newspaper Faces Backlash Over Map of Gun Permit Holders

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An upstate New York newspaper's decision to publish the names and addresses of all handgun permit holders in two counties has prompted a fierce internet backlash.

The Journal News opted to map the results of a public-records request to find out who has a licence to legally possess a pistol following the renewed debate into America's gun controls.

But the move has prompted a furious response online, with some readers airing concern that it could lead to the targeting of people whose details are listed.

The interactive map shows all addresses in Westchster and Rockland countries where residents have pistol permits.

The information is comprised of data legally obtained through a freedom of information request made following the massacre of 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut.

It was posted on Saturday with the state caveat that the map "does not mean the individual at a specific location owns a weapon, just that they are licensed to do so".

Nonetheless, the newspaper has since been the subject of angry comments from readers concerned that it puts gun owners – whose full name and address can be accessed by clicking on the map – in danger.

"What a terrible judgement call. Reckless and irresponsible. I hope not a single person on or off that list will have anything happen to them for your rating-boosting stunt," one poster to the newspaper's Facebook page wrote.

But the Journal news has since defended the move.

"We knew publication of the database would be controversial, but we felt sharing as much information as we could about gun ownership in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings," editor and vice-president CynDee Royle said in an article on the publication's website.

Powered by article was written by Matt Williams in New York, for on Wednesday 26th December 2012 21.04 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010