YONKERS, N.Y. – A local newspaper’s decision to publish the names and addresses of thousands of pistol permit holders has sparked a fierce nationwide debate and angered many in Yonkers.
“It’s insane,” said city resident Lydia Kambar. “They went way too far.”
On Monday, The Journal News published an article in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting and ensuing gun control debate. Included was an interactive map allowing readers to see the names and address of residents who have licenses to own handguns.
In Yonkers, thousands of red dots adorn the map and are featured in almost every neighborhood. That includes the home of Mayor Mike Spano.
A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office confirmed Thursday that Spano has a permit for a handgun but questioned The Journal News’ decision to publish the names.
“They have the right under the Freedom of Information Act, but is it in the best interest of public safety to have that published, is what needs to be questioned,” Christina Gilmartin said.
Many have agreed. The database has sparked a nationwide debate after it was featured in such media as CNN, The New York Times, the Drudge Report, Yahoo, ABC News and Fox News, among others.
And nearly everyone has an opinion. New York state Sen. Greg Ball, a Republican representing part of Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, called the map “asinine.”
“This is clearly a violation of privacy, and needs to be corrected immediately,” he said in a statement. “The same elitist eggheads who use their editorial page to coddle terrorists and criminals are now treating law-abiding citizens like level three sexual predators.”
Despite heavy criticism, The Journal News stood by the article, saying its readers "are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods" in the wake of the Newtown shooting, ABC News reported.
Still, Yonkers resident Robert Trapletti said he felt as though registered gun owners are being singled out when they are the ones following the law.
“I’m upset they posted it without my knowledge,” Trapletti said. “All of a sudden my name's in the paper for something that is my right.”
He also questioned the benefit of posting information about handgun owners. Many mass shootings, including the most recent at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, have been committed with rifles or shotguns, weapons that were not included in the database, Trapletti said.
“Whatever point they’re trying to prove, they’re going about it the wrong way,” he said.
Others said they felt the information put them in danger.
“It’s like hanging a sign on my door that says, 'Come and rob me,' ” said William Kambar, who is a range saftey officer at the Coyne Park Range on McLean Avenue. “It’s crazy. I can understand freedom of the press. There’s a limit.”