Last month, New York newspaper The Journal News set off a national debate after it posted a Google map that showed the names and addresses of pistol or revolver permits in Westchester and Rockland counties. The map was controversial for privacy and safety reasons, and those concerns may now be compounded by an additional problem: inaccurate data. The Journal News reported over the weekend that "scores of residents" contacted the newspaper regarding false information, like one resident named Mike Smith whose brother-in-law surreptitiously applied for a handgun license with Smith's address. Additionally, the data for Rockland County was found to be dramatically outdated, with just 3,907 of 16,998 permits considered current -- the rest are "historical" records, some of which date back to the 1930s, the Journal News says. The paper has since removed those historical records and placed them on a separate map.
Earlier this month the newspaper responsible for the map removed personal information on individual permit owners, but kept high-level versions of the map intended to show the density of gun permit ownership. The Journal News said at the time that it had removed the data in response to a new law that banned large gun magazines, instituted background checks on ammunition purchases, and closed a loophole allowing New York residents to purchase weapons without a background check in some cases. New New York gun control laws passed in January also require all permits to be renewed every five years, which should help prevent future inaccuracies if a similar map is compiled.