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Retired New York Cop says publishing gun info is dangerous

11:49 PM, Dec 26, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A newspaper in New York said they wanted to add context to the debate over gun control when they published a list of registered gun owners in the area.

But the map of gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties drew strong reaction on both sides, and some former police officers are calling the move dangerous.

"We had this mele of people rolling around on the floor, blood everywhere, we couldn't tell who the suspect was," said Tom Verri, a retired Monroe Police Officer.

In 1985, Tom Verri was a young police officer responding to a call.

He found a man with a hatchet attacking people in a bank.

"When the opportunity came, we lunged, we took him down. So I was given this award by the newspaper," said Verri.

An earlier version of The Journal News -- which is owned by Gannett, the same parent company as First Coast News -- awarded Verri for heroic action in the line of duty.

He was praised for taking the suspect down without using his gun.

Now retired and living in Jacksonville, he plans to give that award back to the Journal News

"If you're going to award us during our careers, you shouldn't put our lives in danger when our career is over," he said.

The Journal News published a map listing the addresses of registered gun owners in the area -- including retired police officers.

Verri thinks it's dangerous.

"To treat law abiding citizens and retired police officers as if they were sex offenders and they're being outted in their own neighborhood, that's a little bit scary," he said.

After the map came out, thousands of people reacted on both sides.

The newspaper has responded to critics. In a statement President Janet Hasson said in part:

"Frequently, the work of journalists is not popular. One of our roles is to report publicly available information on timely issues, even when unpopular."

Like many people, Verri thinks there needs to be a conversation about gun control and gun rights across the country, but argued this wasn't the way to do it.

"This is a knee jerk reaction, and a demonizing of people with permits and law-abiding citizens," he said.

It's important to note that gun ownership is public under the Freedom of Information Act. The type of weapon people own is not.

First Coast News

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