On Friday, The Journal News took down its controversial, interactive online map of licensed gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York. According to Journal News publisher Janet Hasson, the move was in response to recently passed gun legislation in New York, which includes a provision prohibiting the release of information about gun owners, and not because of the firestorm of criticism the paper's received since publishing the list four weeks ago. From publisher Janet Hasson's statement on the Journal News' website:
Today The Journal News has removed the permit data from lohud.com. Our decision to do so is not a concession to critics that no value was served by the posting of the map in the first place. On the contrary, we've heard from too many grateful community members to consider our decision to post information contained in the public record to have been a mistake. Nor is our decision made because we were intimidated by those who threatened the safety of our staffers. We know our business is a controversial one, and we do not cower.
Hasson wrote that her staff had received "hundreds of threats" after the list's publishing. Staff members' addresses were published, death threats were issued, and, consequently, a branch of the paper hired armed guards.
Hasson also mentioned the new gun legislation, writing "we do not endorse the way the legislature has chosen to limit public access to gun permit data. The statute is very broad and allows anyone who meets certain criteria within qualifying categories to keep their permit information private...But we are not deaf to voices who have said that new rules should be set for gun permit data." In a statement to the New York Times, Hasson said, "While the new law does not require us to remove the data, we believe that doing so complies with its spirit."
The map was viewed over 1.2 million times in 27 days, according to The Journal News.