The very premise of a newspaper printing a database of the home addresses of gun owners is offensive. It’s an affront to individual privacy, it puts people in danger and serves no public interest at all.
And, it seems, it was almost entirely inaccurate:
The newspaper map of one New York county’s pistol permits was riddled with problems, thanks to inaccurate data in official records, acknowledges the paper that published it. Just 3,907 of the 16,998 permit-holding households displayed on the Journal News‘ Rockland County map were current; the rest were classified as “historical,” with no updates in the past five years, explains Rockland’s county clerk. Some permits were issued as long ago as the 1930s; owners could have moved, ditched their guns, or died since then.
So how did the Journal News, which published the map, respond to this news? They blamed the gun owners for not updating their gun registration data more often even though the law only requires it to happen once every five years:
Until this month, only Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau counties required permits to be renewed every five years; New York City requires an update every three years.
Every other county in New York — including Rockland — issued permits that were good for a person’s lifetime, and though it was the responsibility of the permit holder to update his information, many simply did not, Piperato said.
Maybe some didn’t because they died. Or moved away. Regardless, wouldn’t good journalists have verified the accuracy of the data before they ran the story?
We can be happy that the map was mostly inaccurate, rendering its utility to criminals and others significantly diminished, but the apparent inaccuracy made this sorry chapter in American journalism even sorrier.