After outcry over map of gun permit holders, newspaper hires armed guards

The Journal News  published a map of the names and addresses of all handgun permit-holders in two metro New York counties.

Story highlights

  • A newspaper in suburban New York published an online map of handgun permit-holders
  • The publication triggered strong response, including e-mails
  • An editor at the paper reported one e-mail to police
  • The resulting police report confirms private armed guards were hired by the paper

The newspaper that published an online, interactive map of handgun permit holders in two suburban New York counties hired armed guards to protect its office after negative backlash from the map publication, according to a local police report.

The January 1 report from the Clarkstown police department in Rockland County confirms the presence of armed private security guards at the Journal News. The incident report stemmed from e-mail responses to the newspaper's online map.

The police statement says Caryn McBride, the paper's Rockland editor, reported "that she received an e-mail from an unknown subject who wrote that he wondered what (she) would get in her mail now."

"The e-mail was brief and did not contain any threats," the police report continues, adding that the officer who wrote it told McBride "the e-mail did not constitute an offense."

The report adds that a private company "is doing private security work on location at the Journal News ... (the company's) employees are armed and will be on site ... through at least January 2, 2013."

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The Journal News did not immediately respond Wednesday when asked by CNN for comment.

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The armed guards' presence at Journal News comes after gun-owning blogger Christopher Fountains posted the home addresses of newspaper staffers on his blog in response to the map, which was published online on December 22.

Fountains spoke to CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" last week to explain his reasoning behind the posting. "I felt they were using this (the interactive map showing gun permit-holders' addresses) to harass gun owners," Fountain said. "So I harassed them back."

Fountain posted the name, home address and phone numbers of the Journal News' publisher, editor, visual editor and several other staff members. Fountain told CNN's "Early Start" that he was offended by the newspaper's actions and "wondered how they would like it if their addresses were published."

The map, published by the Journal News, allows readers to zoom in on red dots that indicate which residents in Westchester and Rockland counties are licensed to own pistols or revolvers. Blue dots indicated permit holders who "have purchased a firearm or updated the information on a permit in the past five years."

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The paper's publisher, Janet Hasson, president of the Journal News Media Group, defended the decision December 26 in a statement.

"One of our roles is to report publicly available information on timely issues, even when unpopular. We knew publication of the database (as well as the accompanying article providing context) would be controversial, but we felt sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings," she said, referring to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.