Notorious “gun map” wildly inaccurate

posted at 8:01 am on January 29, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

When the Journal News published a map showing the location of all households in their corner of New York, gun-rights activists vehemently criticized the decision as irresponsible, one that put the entire community in danger.  As it turns out, they underestimated just how irresponsible the Journal News decision was.  The map wildly overstated the number of active gun permits, and it turns out the newspaper didn’t bother to verify any of their information (via Instapundit):

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.

The Journal News offers this lame rationale:

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.

Yes, you see, it was the responsibility of the gun owner to update records, even though they might have died in the interim.  It certainly wasn’t the Journal News’ responsibility to actually verify that the data was correct, or that they weren’t working with data from, say, the 1930s.  Verification and research into what data actually means is so passé, especially when a newspaper can put people’s lives at risk to make a political point — and at the same time come up with a cool graphic.

Tech Crunch advises next time to talk with the data geeks first before publishing, and not the other way around:

While there’s a reasonable debate about whether gun permit ownership should be public information, there is no upside to transparency when it endangers the wrong citizens. Apparently, in Rockland County, the vast majority of the 16,998 permit holders were considered “historic,” some dating back to the 1930′s. Only 3,907 (22%) were current.

Transparency of government records is still a recent development; the advancement of technology hasn’t kept pace with clunky record keeping, giving overzealous journalists more offensive power than citizens have defensive power.

Perhaps, next time, we should reach out to the data geeks in charge of the information and see how accurate our conclusions might be.

You know what also might work?  Dumping the cheap activism and actually producing journalism and objective news reporting.


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You know what also might work? Dumping the cheap activism and actually producing journalism and objective news reporting.

Ain’t gonna happen.

vityas on January 29, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Wouldn’t it have been nice if Rockland County officials had refused to provide the info like Putnam did?

ctmom on January 29, 2013 at 8:08 AM

You know what also might work? Dumping the cheap activism and actually producing journalism and objective news reporting.

What is this journalism thing you mention? The dictionary says it is the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media but all this newspaper did was try to out everybody who ever owned a gun since the 1930s. That isn’t journalism it is gotcha activism and I hope those named sue the hell out of the paper and its parent company- Gannett (no friend of objective news coverage itself).

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:08 AM

About ten years ago I got ticked off enough to write a letter to the Editor of my local paper. They published the letter, but before they did, they called me to verify that I was indeed the author, etc. So, I’m guessing that this newspaper likely does more backround work on letters to the Editor than they did on this important “news” piece.

trubble on January 29, 2013 at 8:14 AM

yes, but what do you know about journalism or objective news reporting Ed?

Slade73 on January 29, 2013 at 8:14 AM

I hope this episode destroys that newspaper. It’s a menace to civil society.

forest on January 29, 2013 at 8:14 AM

This story just keeps getting better and better, for the way smug sanctimonious liberals screwed up something else.

Too funny!

Liam on January 29, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Wouldn’t it have been nice if Rockland County officials had refused to provide the info like Putnam did?

ctmom on January 29, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Public officials upholding the Constitution and other rights of law-abiding citizens? Lotsa luck with that in a world where a 32oz soda is considered something that must be regulated by the state.

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:15 AM

This story just keeps getting better and better, for the way smug sanctimonious liberals screwed up something else.

Too funny!

Liam on January 29, 2013 at 8:15 AM

What makes it great is the fact that the addresses of the newspaper employees WAS accurate even if their list calling out and criminalizing private gun owners was not.

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:16 AM

What makes it great is the fact that the addresses of the newspaper employees WAS accurate even if their list calling out and criminalizing private gun owners was not.

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Oh, I know! Turnabout is fair play. And it took regular folks to get accurate information to the public, when so-called ‘professionals’ couldn’t do their own jobs right.

Liam on January 29, 2013 at 8:19 AM

While there’s a reasonable debate about whether gun permit ownership should be public information, there is no upside to transparency when it endangers the wrong citizens.

So it’s okay to endanger the right citizens, which is to say law-abiding citizens who own guns. If there are people out there who wish to endanger me for exercising my rights, then what better reason is there to own a gun?

EricW on January 29, 2013 at 8:20 AM

You know what also might work? Dumping the cheap activism and actually producing journalism and objective news reporting

…. Just 3,907 of the 16,998 permit-holding households displayed on the Journal News‘ Rockland County map were current;

…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH….”journalism”

as long ago as the 1930s; could have moved, ditched their brains, or died since then!

KOOLAID2 on January 29, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Has their circulation sunk?

docflash on January 29, 2013 at 8:31 AM

While there’s a reasonable debate about whether gun permit ownership should be public information, there is no upside to transparency when it endangers the wrong citizens.

I can’t begin to express how much I disagree with this mentality.

Why should law abiding citizens excercising their rights under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution be public information? Why should they be treated the same as registered sex offenders?

What’s next, public information on where all the Jews live? Mandatory police searches of private homes to determine if the guns really are where the records say they are? Maybe public lists of where all the Republicans are located.

Gun ownership is a civil right. There is no question that this is not public information.

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Nothing new here folks!

This is indicative of any reporting this POS rag usually does. They were informed back in 2006 when they “outed” everyone the same thing. That the information was out of date. That worked out real well, now didn’t it?

The pursue their own agenda every single time, come hell or high water!

De Oppresso Liber on January 29, 2013 at 8:36 AM

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:32 AM

The way the Left reacts, it sometimes seems like law-abiding gun owners are lower than sex offenders to liberals.

Liam on January 29, 2013 at 8:36 AM

a newspaper can put people’s lives at risk to make a political point

And here’s the main problem with today’s activist journalism. And I use the word “journalism” in it’s most general form

NapaConservative on January 29, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Maybe public lists of where all the Republicans are located. Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Didn’t Obama have an app for that?

KCB on January 29, 2013 at 8:39 AM

Well, it has to be the responsibility of the gun owners – you don’t think liberals are ever going to be held responsible for anything, do you? Really?

ghostwalker1 on January 29, 2013 at 8:39 AM

The way the Left reacts, it sometimes seems like law-abiding gun owners are lower than sex offenders to liberals.

Liam on January 29, 2013 at 8:36 AM

Law abiding gun owners = BAD

Roman Polanski = GOOD

-lib mentality

NapaConservative on January 29, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Didn’t Obama have an app for that?

KCB on January 29, 2013 at 8:39 AM

As I recall it wasn’t so much of an app as a method that the parasites who support Obama could denounce their more respectable neighbors.

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:47 AM

I knew I was remembering something.

KCB on January 29, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Yup. Not surprising really. Bad data in results in bad data out… Just like all the scaremongering man-bear-pig models…

This revelation is leading me to think that they did this map completely in-house and didn’t use an outside, private GIS firm as they would have taken more time and warned the paper of potential data conflicts and problems.

Map flaws are not uncommon, sometimes they’re big and it’s not always some mapmaker putting in a flaw to create a copywriter aspect. Recently there was a story about a woman in Europe whose auto navigation system gave her directions that were 900 miles off. The effort of GIS and mapping professionals is to make sure such big flaws don’t make it to finished map products, but this as I noted shows signs of not having been done by professionals… And shows signs of having been rushed… Which usually compounds errors.

This paper just keeps making themselves look better and better… Bunch of doofuses.

Logus on January 29, 2013 at 8:53 AM

You know what also might work? Dumping the cheap activism and actually producing journalism and objective news reporting.

That maybe the most hilarious statement I’ve ever read.

Doomsday on January 29, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Notorious

This discussion needs a pop culture injection.

A very smart man observed for me that the culture really hadn’t aimed its propaganda big guns (pun) on gun ownership.

There hasn’t been a real 2nd Amendment hating movie!

Then I noted that the two real, archetype gun flicks which come to my mind were both “The Quick and the Dead” based and ended up being pro gun. Check that — VERY PRO GUN.

Google that..Sharon Stone really sold guns in hers.

Then we had the line in the former flick (from a review by Ron Sheer with my gratitude):

This HBO western, based on a Louis L’Amour novel, must have pleased the gun lobby. Its message is that decent people will be preyed upon by villains if they don’t arm and defend themselves. “The meek,” as one character says, “will inherit nothing west of Chicago.”

Review of The Quick and the Dead (1987)

And Bill Maher takes a paycheck from those hucksters!

And now we are losing Chicago.

Poor liberal media…can’t make money on stories without action..so you try to sell controversy.

IlikedAUH2O on January 29, 2013 at 9:07 AM

What’s cool about this whole thing is that any household on the list which has a burglary for the next few years has a legal cause of action against the Journal News.

unclesmrgol on January 29, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Maybe public lists of where all the Republicans are located.

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Here in California such lists are called canvassing lists, and, given that candidates can get them, I’m sure the general public can too.

I live in Culver City and one candidate for city council came up to me introduced himself, and started talking about what he would do if he gained office. Sounded really liberal so I told that I’m a Republican and believe in smaller government, and started to explain why. He took a look at his clipboard and said, “Strange — says here you are a Democrat.” He then lined through my name, and without another word, walked away.

unclesmrgol on January 29, 2013 at 9:50 AM

The totally O/T “Maps of the Day” in the spirit of Superbowl Week…

An Enclave Of Steelers Fans In Oregon? The Surprising Maps That Show How The Country Is Divided Over The NFL

Resist We Much on January 29, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Some permits were issued as long ago as the 1930s

Well, you have to acknowledge the pleasing symmetry to this. I mean, the 1930s were probably the last time the Journal News practiced real journalism.

CJ on January 29, 2013 at 10:12 AM

You know what also might work? Dumping the cheap activism and actually producing journalism and objective news reporting.

In your wildest dreams ED.

chemman on January 29, 2013 at 10:17 AM

The Texas gun owner map, however is much more accurate.

osborn4 on January 29, 2013 at 10:20 AM

and at the same time come up with a cool graphic

A reporter from our state’s largest circulation paper told me one time that they used a full-color graphic for their weather forecast even though the plainer text-only version was more up-to-date. Reason? Simple: the less reliable version looked better.

jackmac on January 29, 2013 at 10:21 AM

What’s next, public information on where all the Jews live? Mandatory police searches of private homes to determine if the guns really are where the records say they are? Maybe public lists of where all the Republicans are located.

Gun ownership is a civil right. There is no question that this is not public information.

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Can you imagine the outrageous outrage if they had published the locations of all gay people (both closeted and not) or every liberal democrat?

AZfederalist on January 29, 2013 at 10:27 AM

While there’s a reasonable debate about whether gun permit ownership should be public information, there is no upside to transparency when it endangers the wrong citizens.

Presumably this means there is upside when the RIGHT citizens are endangered…?

oconp88 on January 29, 2013 at 10:28 AM

The map wildly overstated the number of active gun permits, and it turns out the newspaper didn’t bother to verify any of their information.

LAWSUIT!

GarandFan on January 29, 2013 at 10:29 AM

So you mean to tell me that people who have died, still show up on official lists/rolls? They’re not automatically purged from the system? Surely this sort of thing doesn’t exist with the Voter Registration rolls – does it?

Hill60 on January 29, 2013 at 10:39 AM

So it’s okay to endanger the right citizens

When the mask slips like this, it’s really informative. It’s obvious that the writer implicitly believes it’s OK to endanger “the right” citizens.

The Monster on January 29, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Surely this sort of thing doesn’t exist with the Voter Registration rolls – does it?

Hill60 on January 29, 2013 at 10:39 AM

I recently discovered that in Virginia the voter registration files are regularly purged by cross referencing death certificate information.

Oldnuke on January 29, 2013 at 10:56 AM

So it’s okay to endanger the right citizens

When the mask slips like this, it’s really informative. It’s obvious that the writer implicitly believes it’s OK to endanger “the right” citizens.

The Monster on January 29, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Lying is Ok too as long as it supports the agenda.

Oldnuke on January 29, 2013 at 10:57 AM

About ten years ago I got ticked off enough to write a letter to the Editor of my local paper. They published the letter, but before they did, they called me to verify that I was indeed the author, etc. So, I’m guessing that this newspaper likely does more backround work on letters to the Editor than they did on this important “news” piece.

trubble on January 29, 2013 at 8:14 AM

Yeah. 25 years ago I wrote a letter to the editor, which they published. It was in response to an opinion column published earlier. I got a personal letter days later in the mail with all sorts of predictable ad hominems, written by a third party who was an occasional contributor to the paper. I assume that he was able to call his friends in the editor’s office and get my home address without any trouble.

I now comment online anonymously.

TexasDan on January 29, 2013 at 11:07 AM

The very fact that someone produced a more accurate list of permits, establishes that it was possible to verify the original contents.

There is no excuse for someone else doing your journalism for you.

The Schaef on January 29, 2013 at 11:28 AM

They’ve succeeded at their task, turning law abiding permit holders into shamed outcasts.

jnelchef on January 29, 2013 at 11:45 AM

This news should encourage anyone already considering a lawsuit against the Journal News and its staff. An inaccuracy rate of 80% reflects gross negligence in the process, even if in principle the paper was on more solid legal footing. If I was a member of plaintifff’s bar with a client whose name was erroneously on the list and was burglarized in the wake of the list’s publication, I would be licking my chops and drafting a new count for my complaint.

novaculus on January 29, 2013 at 11:59 AM

“WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!?”

There are 20 dead children and teachers! What difference does it make if the map was correct or not? We must act to make sure nothing like that ever happens again!

Welcome to the new, unplugged [from reality] world of leftism.

in_awe on January 29, 2013 at 1:34 PM

What works best is not violating the Constitution with gun registration in the first place.

Here’s a good argument: Why I am Opposed to Background Checks

Common Sense on January 29, 2013 at 8:52 PM

As I recall it wasn’t so much of an app as a method that the parasites who support Obama could denounce their more respectable neighbors.

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2013 at 8:47 AM

You’re definately right Nomad, fortunately, pretty much all the citizens on my block voted for the American

Vntnrse on January 29, 2013 at 10:53 PM

Hey! I’ve been saying this since Day 1–because there were so few permit “hits” in Rockland–WHERE IS MY PULITZER PRIZE?

ParisParamus on January 30, 2013 at 8:13 PM