Gun control is a highly popular and highly sensitive subject, so the Journal News decided to tackle it in a blunt way: By publishing the names and addresses of gun owners in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties. Alongside an article titled “The Gun Owner Next Door: What You Don’t Know About The Weapons in Your Neighborhood,” the paper posted an interactive map that details the gun owners’ information.
As you might expect, the comments posted to the article were overwhelmingly critical and sometimes, downright crazy. “I’d rather have a gun owner as my neighbor then a journalist, one is far more responsible then the other,” wrote one reader. Another commented “Do you fools realize that you also made a map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns in them to protect themselves? What a bunch of liberal boobs you all are.” Right. Surely every criminal in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties is excitedly planning the next caper based entirely on the Journal News’ map.
Several other readers said they’d seek criminal charges against that paper if possible, and one commenter even posted the names and addresses of the reporter who wrote the article, the Journal News’ president, and two of its editors.
Despite the backlash, the Journal News defended publishing the information. In a statement to ABC News, the paper said that readers’ wanted the information published ” because of the conversation about gun control on its website after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., last week,” and that all the names and addresses listed were obtained “through routine Freedom of Information law requests.”