Buffalo News requests gun data -- to have, not to publish

The Buffalo News | The New York Times

The Buffalo News requested data on gun owners in Erie County, N.Y., via a Freedom of Information request. The News has no plans to publish their names and addresses, it says in a short article:


The News is seeking this information just as it has data of voter registration, criminal records, municipal salaries, property assessments, political contributions and tax rates.



An example of its usefulness would be in the event of a gun-related crime. The News would be able to refer to the gun permits to determine if an individual has a legal hand gun.

The News made the request on Jan. 9, Managing Editor Brian Connolly tells Poynter via email. New York adopted a new gun law Tuesday that includes a provision specifically shielding those records from anyone wielding a FOI request, following The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News' publication of a map of gun-permit holders that outraged many gun owners.

Journal News reporter Dwight R. Worley tells The New York Times' Christine Haughney his map had "no additional need for analysis and pairing with other databases," as critics of the map -- like Poynter's Al Tompkins -- suggested. “We are disappointed with the broad nature of several exemptions in the law and lack of opportunity for any reasonable period for public comment or discussion. We are reviewing the law and the impact it might have on publication of permit data in the future,” the paper's publisher, Janet Hasson, told the Times in a statement.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.

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