US newspaper draws fire after publishing gun database

Updated 28 December 2012
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US newspaper draws fire after publishing gun database

NEW YORK: A New York newspaper has sparked outrage by publishing a detailed map with thousands of names and addresses of gun permit holders in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.
The publication came amid a heated debate over gun control revived after the Connecticut massacre and drew intense criticism on social media outlets from gun owners, who called it a violation of privacy.
The Journal News in New York state’s Westchester County obtained the publicly available information from county clerks and published it earlier this week in an interactive map alongside an article entitled “The Gun Owner Next Door.”
The paper obtained the names and addresses of more than 33,000 permit holders in two counties, though it said that more than 13,000 had no activity in the last five years, and could belong to people who moved or passed away.
It said it was awaiting information on 11,000 permit-holders from a third county.
The newspaper defended the publication, saying the information was legally obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and that its readers had a right to know whether their neighbors owned firearms.
“We knew publication of the database would be controversial, but we felt sharing as much information as we could about gun ownership in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings,” said CynDee Royle, editor and vice president of the Journal News, a Gannett Publication.
“People are concerned about who owns guns and how many of them there are in their neighborhoods,” she said. The newspaper had also asked for information about the type and number of weapons people owned, but that request was denied.
Critics slammed the move as an invasion of privacy that could put gun owners at risk, and the newspaper said it had received hundreds of calls from people who feared for their safety or felt their privacy had been violated.
“You’re giving a shopping list to criminals,” the newspaper quoted Tom King, president of the New York Rifle & Pistol Association, as saying.
“Does it matter if you own 47 guns or you own one gun? Everybody likes to think that someone who has all of these guns is evil, that there’s some nefarious reason they have all these guns. There are collectors.”
The newspaper’s Facebook page drew hundreds of comments, positive and negative, with several irate users publishing the home addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the daily’s publisher and editors.
“Don’t you idiots realize you have just classified the law-abiding gun-owning citizen with sex offenders who have been released from prison?” wrote one user, identified as Sheila Gray.
“You also have told the street thugs where the armed homes are and where there are no guns.”


Five Iranian migrants found drifting off French coast

Updated 26 May 2018
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Five Iranian migrants found drifting off French coast

  • They were treated by emergency services when brought back to land in Boulogne-sur-Mer

CALAIS: Five Iranian migrants attempting to reach Britain aboard a makeshift boat were rescued Saturday morning off the northern coast of France, officials said.
They were found around at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) in a state of hypothermia and were treated by emergency services when brought back to land in Boulogne-sur-Mer, according to the maritime authorities.
“These crossings are extremely risky and dangerous, despite the apparent proximity of the English coast from the French coast,” the prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea said in statement.
The five Iranians set off in a non-powered inflatable boat and lost their oars in calm seas but with poor visibility due to the haze.
They were found after five hours of searching by a Navy aircraft 8.5 nautical miles (16 km) north of Cape Gris-Nez, halfway to England, and then rescued by the National Society of Sea Rescue (SNSM).
On May 19, a Colombian national was found suffering from hypothermia by sea rescuers in the same area while trying to reach England illegally.