Thousands of people have taken to their computers and phones in rage after The Journal News in Westchester County, N.Y., posted an online database of local gun-permit holders. The database, legally obtained from the County Clerks’ Offices through a Freedom of Information Act request made after the shootings in Sandy Hook, Conn., that left 20 children and eight adults dead, has been called irresponsible, dangerous and leaning toward intimidation by online pundits. Social media played a big part in the exponential spread of the story, whose map has been recommended more than 20,000 times.
Numerous additional comments relating to the gun-permit map have appeared on posts in other unrelated articles. More than a dozen more people sent private messages via Facebook objecting to the map. The overwhelming majority of comments strongly object to the article. Hundreds of callers have complained, claiming publication of the database put their safety at risk or violated their privacy. Others claimed publication was illegal. Many of the callers were vitriolic and some threatened members of the newspaper staff.