The Westchester, N.Y, Journal News, which became the focus of controversy for publishing a gun-owners map after the Sandy Hook massacre, is suing a county that now refuses to hand over names.
The Westchester, N.Y., newspaper that created a national stir in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre by publishing an interactive map showing where the owners of pistol permits lived, is suing a county government that has refused to give out information about who in the area has such a permit.
Posting of the interactive map opened the Journal News to some criticism from within journalism circles that by publishing raw data the paper ultimately had the effect of depriving the public of information.
The paper was also the target of retaliation by pro-gun bloggers who published the names and addresses of the reporters and editors responsible for the map.
The controversy epitomized the heightened sensitivities around a burgeoning gun culture in the US.
Publication of the map so upset gun owners over what they perceived to be a breach of privacy that the New York Legislature passed a law giving gun owners an option of keeping their addresses and identities secret from the public. About half of the 31,000 permit holders in the area have since requested that their information be sealed.
But after several attempts to get information that remains public, the Journal News on Thursday took Putnam County to court. Some have called the county officials’ refusal to hand over any permit-holder names an act of “standing up” for gun owners. County Clerk Dennis Sant has said state law gives him “discretion to deem whether information is going to put my citizens in harm’s way.”
The paper made similar requests of two other counties, which did hand over the permit information.