THE NEW YORK JOURNAL REPORTS GUN OWNER LOCATION – And yet, another sloppy piece of journalism has hit the front pages of America’s newspapers. On Christmas Day, The New York Journal decided to take it upon itself to research and print the names and addresses of every handgun/pistol owner within their vicinity. Although this list does not include shotguns, rifles, or illegally obtained weapons, it does reveal that there are quite a few homes armed for defense. Note all the dots on this map, which was also part of their article.
Imagine, after getting your morning paper and settling down with a nice hot cup of coffee, you open the newspaper to see a list of names and addresses of gun owners. Your heart starts to pound as you quickly scan through the list for your own name. There it is, and there’s also the name of the family two doors down from you. You know, the one with the husband that is always yelling at his wife, the kids, their dog and his car. You’re surprised at the number of neighbors who have guns and begin to wonder how many of them know how to actually use them.
With the recent increase in shootings, The Journal decided to be pro-active and make the residents aware of who has access to a gun and where they live. Although this information can be found by anyone, most people would not even think to look something like this up. The paper took it upon themselves to be the information gatherer and distributor, with the added flair being the sheer impact caused by seeing an entire list. Is this a violation of your rights as a citizen and as a gun owner?
When you register your handgun or pistol, your information becomes a public record. This is a fact not known to some handgun owners I have spoken with. They realized it was on file “somewhere” but other than that didn’t give it another thought. Now they are doing some serious thinking. Should this already public information be published the same way as a marriage license or traffic offense? It would appear that The Journal thinks so, based on the opinion that an informed publc is an aware public. Gun advocates argue that by allowing this information to be “given”, rather than “sought” it will cause them to fall under scrutiny and judgement and in addition, that it can be the beginning of a slippery slope towards an increase in intrusive legislation.
Did they (The Journal) consider the lives of those they would be putting at risk when they published this list? A would be burglar now holds a golden list that gives them a heads-up on who may or may not defend themselves in the event of a break-in. In the same vein, they know which home to enter in search for a gun to be used elsewhere, at another time. Will there be any recourse for anyone who is now in fear of becoming a victim of crime?
Until such a time as the powers above decide that gun ownership should be publically announced, this was an infringement on the rights of those gun owners. It is true, they bought and registered their guns, and hopefully they are stored properly. However, it is also true that they made their purchase as a private citizen and as such, even though it is a matter of public record, have the right to keep the transaction itself private. It also occured to me that this was a brazen effort to stir up emotion and further controversy in an already heated subject. They have accomplished both goals and I wonder if they sold a record number of papers that day. According to follow-up reports, their opinion page and phone lines were certainly filled with many angry and scared responses the day it was published and continues today.
Done differently, this could have been a service to the community, but the way this information was handled has done just the opposite.
Was this responsible reporting, or an act of reckless endangerment? What do you think?