January 3, 2013

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Critics of the Journal News have spent the past week or so predicting mayhem as a result of the newspaper’s journalism. Just before Christmas, it published a story and some maps inventorying the names and addresses of gun permit holders in the Westchester and Rockland counties in New York. The databases, argued critics, would enable and embolden criminals, giving them a road map of residences that harbored weapons and residences that perhaps did not harbor weapons.

So have break-ins started spiking yet?

“Not that I’m aware of,” says William Barbera, chief of patrol for the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office. “I have no knowledge of anything spiking because of that, no.”

That’s not to say that Barbera is down with the Journal News story/map. He’s concerned about the safety of police officers who may be on the list of permit holders published by the Journal News. Arrestees may choose to hunt down an officer with the help of the Web presentation. “If someone has a grudge or something, that’s not good at all,” says Barbera.

Levels of threat stemming from the Journal News story are no idle matter. Putnam County, after all, is defying New York state law by denying the Journal News records on gun permit holders in the county, and safety is the rationale. County Clerk Dennis Sant held a press conference today reiterating his refusal to share the information. In a previous statement, Sant said: “I could not live with myself if one Putnam pistol permit holder was put in harm’s way, for the sole purpose of selling newspapers.”.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.