January 13, 2013

(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Just when it appeared that the furor over the Journal News’s map of gun-permit holders might just recede a tad, this happens: New York state Sen. Greg Ball, who has been decrying the Journal News for weeks, is alleging that a burglary in White Plains stemmed from the paper’s publication of the names and addresses of permit holders.

Here are two paragraphs from Ball’s statement of this afternoon:

Today Senator Greg Ball (Patterson – R, C, I) announced that a burglary has been reported on Davis Ave. in White Plains, New York that evidently ties into The Journal News gun maps. It is reported that the burglar used The Journal News’ interactive gun map to target a home included on the map. Luckily the gun was locked up and no one was hurt.

“The Journal News has placed the lives of these folks at risk by creating a virtual shopping list for criminals and nut jobs. If the connection is proven, this is further proof that these maps are not only an invasion of privacy but that they present a clear and present danger to law-abiding, private citizens. Former convicts have already testified to the usefulness of the asinine Journal News ‘gun maps’ yet the reckless editors are evidently willing to roll the dice, gambling with the lives of innocent local homeowners,” said Senator Greg Ball.

Newsday is all over this turn of events. The break-in occurred around 9:30 Saturday night, and the perpetrators, reports Newsday, targeted the home’s gun safe. Other details: No guns were taken from the residence; the victim is a man in his 70s; a suspect has been taken into custody.

And perhaps the most explosive bit is that the home was included in the Journal News’s map of registered gun-permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties, according to Newsday and Ball.

Joe Bachmeier, an aide to Ball, said his office is still pushing for more details on the case. A call to the White Plains police turned up nothing: The Erik Wemple Blog was referred to the commissioner’s office, which didn’t pick up.

Regardless of how the details shake out, this is a towering media story, primarily for the pickle in which it puts the Journal News. Since the newspaper is under fire for allegedly turning the counties of Westchester and Rockland into a burglar’s paradise, coverage of burglaries becomes a fraught undertaking for the Journal News. Are thieves really targeting homes harboring valuable weaponry, as some have alleged? Are thieves really targeting homes not harboring valuable weaponry, as some have alleged? What obligation does the Journal News have to self-disclose criminal actions involving the residences included in its database?

A pretty heavy obligation, the Erik Wemple Blog would guess.

A spokesman for Journal News declined to comment on the matter.

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