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Google Map of handgun owners posted online isn't exactly accurate

The Journal News, a local New York paper, decides to post a map of all those who own handguns in the area. Like so much that's online, it contains errors -- massive errors.

2 min read
Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Is there anything more difficult than an emotional reaction on an emotive topic?

So many marriages have dissipated in such circumstances. Facts become cudgels and recollections have all the accuracy of a plasticine Lugar.

When the Journal News, a local New York newspaper, thought it might be a good idea to post a Google map depicting all the local handgun owners and their addresses, voices and arms were raised.

One imagines that the editors of the Journal News had both good intentions -- it was very soon after the Newtown massacre -- and some inkling that this posting might raise the local (and even national) decibel level.

Indeed, the map was subsequently removed.

You see, New York passed the NYSAFE law which actually allows gun owners to remove their names from the public record of gunowners. The map would, therefore, attract even more difficult reactions.

Now, it transpires that the map was a little inaccurate. When I say "a little," I mean in the way that wood is a little flammable.

I am grateful to Newser for pointing me toward this incendiary information.

The Journal News itself revealed that of the 16,998 permit holders it identified, 13,091 might not have actually been gunowners.

These were, in fact, permits that were "historical." The Journal News explained that Rockland County had offered this difficult information.

One might imagine that some of these 13,091 people might have felt slightly hysterical on hearing this news.

I know that, for some, gun ownership carries with it a sense of enormous of chest-puffing pride. For others, however, it is simply a form of discreet self-protection.

Being identified online in this way -- knowing that once something appears online it never actually disappears -- might be slightly discomforting.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that some of these permits dated from the 1930s.

Will the Journal News now post the names, addresses, names of lovers, names of dogs, names of previous lovers, and all the known kin of the Rockland County officials who curated this information? Please, let's not.