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N.Y. newspaper's map of local gun owners: A cheat sheet for burglars? (+video)

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Groups like the National Rifle Association have fought against a national gun registry, saying it would invite more gun-control scrutiny without providing any real benefit to public safety. But the local data is public, and the Journal News claims its gun map serves a legitimate purpose.

"I would love to know if someone next to me had guns … so I can deal with that," one Lower Hudson local, John Thompson, told the paper.

Yet critics question the Journal News's motives. Does knowing which neighbors are legally registered gun-carriers make a town safer, or is the map intended to demonize legal gun owners?

Neighboring Putnam County, for one, has so far refused to hand over its gun data despite a Freedom of Information Act request from the Journal News.

Meanwhile, bloggers have published addresses of Journal News employees, and the newspaper has hired armed guards in the wake of perceived threats sent by e-mail. Police have said the e-mails did not contain actionable threats.

The broader question of whether gun ownership deters crime yields vastly divergent – and often contradictory – findings, which activists on both sides have attempted to spin in their favor.

Fact-checking organizations note that the number of concealed-carry permit holders have soared during the past decade and that as many as 53 million US homes contain a gun. Yet violence has declined.

"Firearm murders are down, as is overall gun violence –  even as gun ownership increases," concludes, which is run by the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center.

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