Westchester County, NY (BTSNews) -- Despite the atrocities -- and heroism -- committed in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings on Dec. 14, 2012, Politico and The Daily Beast have reported just hours ago that gun control has already dropped off the radar for most Americans, dampening the hopes of gun control advocates for new restrictions on gun ownership.
BEHIND THE SCENES, however, gun control and gun rights advocates clash in the suburbs of New York. There, the Journal News -- a local newspaper in the northern suburbs of New York City -- angered gun owners and gun rights advocates on Dec. 22, 2012 when it used an interactive map on its website, LoHud.com to publish the names and addresses of gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties.
Critics of the newspaper say the list invades the privacy of local residents and dangerously includes sensitive information, including the names and addresses of active and retired police officers, judges, FBI agents, and victims of domestic abuse.
The newspaper and its supporters say that the gun permit information has been public record since 1965. The newspaper used a Freedom of Information Act request -- a standard method to access public, government documents -- and merely published information which anyone could have accessed.
In certain sectors, the newspaper's justifications had fallen on deaf ears. The Journal has already seen a retaliatory drop in its subscription base, as well as a call for boycott for the newspaper's advertisers by organizations such as the New York Rifle Club.
In further retaliation, a blogger posted the names and addresses of the 50 journalists who worked on the lists, and computer hackers claim to have broken into the Journal's online subscription database. Those hackers further claim to be circulating subscriber passwords and user information, and have also threatened to release the names and home addresses of the executives for the newspaper's major advertisers.
Undeterred, the newspaper plans to publish gun licensee information for neighboring Putnam county, although the County has so far refused to honor the newspaper's FOIA request. The newspaper says the County's refusal to release public documents is a violation of the law, paving the way for a potential court battle to force the release of the records. In the meantime, however, the Journal has posted armed guards outside of its offices.
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