Wednesday May 22, 2013
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The Journal News is anewspaper in New York State serving the posh suburban New York City counties of Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam, a region known as the Lower Hudson Valley.
On December 25, 2012 (for obvious reasons)the Journal News published an interactive map giving the names and addresses and locations of local registered gun owners. All people had to do on the online version of the paper was zoom in on a red dot and there was the information.
However, Christopher Fountain, a blogger, decided that if the newspaper wanted to be cute, he too could be cute. He posted the name, home address and phone numbers of the Journal News' publisher, editor, visual editor and as many other staff members as he could obtain.
"I felt they were using this to harass gun owners," Fountain said of the newspaper's staff. "So I harassed them back."
When CNN called the paper, it says, its calls were "not immediately returned."
There are a few interesting questions involved in all this.
One, the staff of the Journal news are now engaged in blocking their public information. If they really feel that such information should be public knowledge, one might ask why they are doing that.
Two, although the list was legally acquired via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of otherwise public records, the publication of those records is legally questionable as the information itself was not supposed to be "generally" released. Therefore, federal laws may have been broken.
Three, an independent group is now making a Freedom of Information Act request to acquire the original data and determine if the Journal News edited the original list to remove themselves and other preferred parties. If they did they may have placed themselves in a very ticklish legal situation since it would show malice.
I will stay on this one and see how it plays out.
Remember the folks at the elitist newspaper in White Plains who thought it would be a good idea to post the names and addresses of Americans who have availed themselves of their second Amendment rights?
Well CBS says that after learning how ordinary people react when someone puts their names and addresses in the paper, thereby making them targets for burglaries and other good things, the folks at the newspaper up there in White Plains have decided it would be a good idea to hire armed guards for their offices.
Hey! Good idea!
Except for one thing.
How can you justify using your right to arm yourself under the Second Amendment if you are so strongly opposed to having ordinary people do the same thing?
Surely you aren't part of the group that believes that all people are equal, but some people are more equal than others?
I knew you would like to know how this dispute ended. Surprisingly enough, even though it only began 16 days ago it is over and done with,
In one of the quickest legislative responses ever, the New York Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, a bill allowing permit holders to opt out of the public record, thereby ending the angry reaction of thousands of people over the blatant invasion of their privacy by the Journal News, a newspaper in a posh suburban area of lower New York State.
New York police and legal agencies joined together with an ourraged public in protesting the posting of private information on the web. They pointed out that criminals could easily find officers who had arrested them, citizens who had served on juries, or the location of their weapons of choice.
People can be exempted for literally any reason, even if they simply feel they may be subjected to harassment over gun ownership. It will no doubt take some time for all individuals who wish to be exempted from any public record to fill out an application and receive an exemption, but in the meantime the Journal News has taken the data off its website.
Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group, said in an emailed statement, "While the new law does not require us to remove the data, we believe that doing so complies with its spirit. One of our core missions as a newspaper is to empower our readers with as much information as possible on the critical issues they face, and guns have certainly become a top issue since the massacre in nearby Newtown, Conn."
Yes, Janet. Thank you. We appreciate your thoughtfulness. Your approach to gun control is a very sensible one: Just post the names and addresses of everyone with a gun so that criminals know where to go to get one.
New York State Senator Greg Ball, a VERY vocal opponent of what the Journal News did, said, "I am proud to have passed legislation keeping the Journal News from doing this ever again!"
Thanks, Greg. Come see the Grand Canyon some day. And stop in the Rim Country so we can shake your hand.
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