Created on: January 08, 2013 Last Updated: January 09, 2013
Reformed criminals have spoken out to say that The Journal News' interactive map showing who gun permit holders are and where they live was a bad idea. An estimated 44,000 residents were listed.
In December, The Journal News, a newspaper serving New York's lower Hudson River Valley, published a controversial article and map that identified who is a handgun permit holder and where the individual lives in Westchester and Rockland Counties.
The paper requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Putnam County did not immediately reply to the request and ended up refusing to provide the information, citing safety concerns for its' residents.
The map sparked a lot of outrage with many people concerned of the problems that could arise from this article. According to Fox News, reformed criminals agree the article and map was a poor decision and could have a negative impact on residents living in those areas.
“That was the most asinine article I’ve ever seen,” said Walter T. Shaw, 65, a former burglar and jewel thief. “Having a list of who has a gun is like gold - why rob that house when you can hit the one next door, where there are no guns?
Shaw is author of the book, "License to Steal," that outlines his criminal history which included blame for over 3,000 break-ins in the 1960s and 1970s that "netted" tens of millions of dollars. He called the newspaper's action "insanity".
“They just created an opportunity for some crimes to be committed and I think it’s exceptionally stupid,” said Bob Portenier, 65, a former burglar and armed house robber turned crime prevention consultant.
Portenier also told Fox News, “That’s one of the first things we’d check out—guns are on the top of the list of what you want to steal."
“It is unbelievable that a newspaper or so-called journalist would publish the names and addresses of legal gun owners, including federal agents, law enforcement officers and the like," Frank Abagnale, the subject of the 2002 movie "Catch Me if you Can", told Fox News. “This would be equivalent to publishing the names of individuals who keep substantial sums of money, jewelry and valuables in their home.”
At this time, no break-ins have occurred in Rockland County as of Jan. 3. While no robberies have occurred in that county since the gun permit holder database was published, people are very concerned on both sides of the political spectrum.
In addition, correctional officers in Rockland County said inmates have approached them to let them know they know where the officers live, reciting home addresses. Westchester County based police officers are also concerned and are furious with The Journal News' decision.
"Since about 9:30 this morning, I've been in a meeting with my corrections officers and their unions. They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That's not acceptable to me," Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco said at a news conference Friday morning, according to Newsday.
Lawmakers in the affected counties plan to introduce legislation to limit gun permit information to police and prosecutors.
Local residents, both permit and non-permit holders, are concerned they may be targeted by criminals either for their guns or because they are not on the list and may be identified as an easy target.
Meanwhile The Journal News stands by its article and previously said it won't back down from publishing the information of legal permit holders for guns.
The Journal News is owned by Gannett Co.
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