The Westchester newspaper that published the names of registered local gun owners is still reeling from the backlash. Since the provocative article, the Journal News has received death threats, pushback from public servants and most recently an envelope filled with suspicious white powder.
In response to the Newtown shooting massacre last month, Westchester-based the Journal News used the Freedom of Information act to request the names and addresses of registered gun owners in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties. They published the names—public information by New York State law— via an interactive Google map, and unsurprisingly ignited the fury of the tweeting, blogging, online-commenting and gun-owning masses.
But the backlash has gone beyond the confines of the World Wide Web, and it seems the Journal News feels they're facing a real security threat. The newspaper says they've received so many threats, angry letters, emails and phone calls that they've hired armed security at their offices (an irony not lost on other local publications) and they received an envelope filled with suspicious white powder earlier this week, though that has since been deemed nontoxic.
Plus, they haven't been able to publish the names of Putnam County gun owners, since the county clerk refuses to release the requested information. The clerk, Dennis Sant, says the map "certainly puts [his] public in danger," giving him a legal right to sit on the names. He's been backed by local politicians Steve Katz, an Assemblyman, and State Senator Greg Ball, both of whom are pushing for legislation that would make gun ownership information no longer public.
Despite the negative responses, the Journal News hasn't taken the map down, and they've addressed a few FAQs about it on their website. And they haven't just been fending off ill will this whole time, having received support from other newspapers and readers. They're also not alone in their quest to publicize gun owners' names: a State Representative in Connecticut, where gun ownership information is currently kept private, says he wants the names and addresses of registered local handgun owners made public by law.