The gun control debate has taken a sinister turn with the publication by a Gannett owned newspaper of the names and addresses of people within the New York City area possessing a permit to own a handgun. The newspaper states the information was compiled using public records, but why? Why has the Gannett owned newspaper done this?
A journalist might answer that the public has a right to know, and I would ask him to point out that right in the Constitution. The right to bear arms is clearly laid out there, but I don’t recall seeing any right for the public to know anything. Yes the information is in the public domain, but just as the name of the editor of the Journal News, and her
The assumption is that lawfully owned weapons present a danger to public safety, and the purpose is to publicly shame the owners in the same way they publicize the sex offender registry. If the assumption were true, gun crime would concentrate highest in counties where gun ownership is most prevalent, yet urban areas such as Camden NJ, Washington DC, and Chicago have some of the strictest gun control laws on the books making legal gun ownership all but impossible yet have the highest rates of gun violence. Meanwhile counties in North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee have some of the highest per capita gun ownership rates in the country yet enjoy low incidences of gun crime.
Kneejack reactions always have unintended consequences, and the publishing of this list is no different. By listing owners of handguns one can safely assume that anyone not on this list is not armed. Criminals now know who to target and who to avoid. Criminality is like water or electricity: it always follows the path of least resistance, or what is perceived by the criminal to be the path of least resistance. It is the reason why burglars avoid homes with dogs, and why they prefer homes without burglar alarms. So by attempting to publicly shame legal gun owners the newspaper has instead helped criminals pick easier targets. Nice job guys.
When I saw this report I immediately recalled Rule 12 of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. The power behind this story chose to attack individual gun owners by name in the New York City area because they hurt, whereas the NRA as an institution does not. Some might scoff and think this is an example of “typical” gun owner paranoia, and that may have been true before we started jailing filmmakers. Answer this: Why else publish the names and addresses of private citizens, never convicted of any crimes, who legally own a handgun?
But gun owners aren’t idiots. They too can employ Alinsky’s tactics. The paper’s editor and vice president’s unusual name makes her an especially easy find on the internet. Add in some cheap information from one of the public records sites and it’s scary what one can learn about a private individual. I didn’t even try to find out personal details and still learned too much. I cannot post that info here because a) she obviously has no clue to what she has done by publishing the story and b) my conscience will not allow me to for the same reason that I will not publish information that could be used by jihadis. I have been on the receiving end of threats before, and it’s not fun but it taught me the wisdom of the old aphorism ”people in glass houses should not throw stones.” The editor/vp obviously hasn’t learned that lesson yet.
I also wonder how the newspaper and its editor would react if, say, Drudge Report published a listing of the names and addresses of all doctors known to perform abortions in a particular area. Such information is pretty much public record, and abortion is legal in the USA just as handgun ownership is.
The Sandy Hook Massacre has allowed anti-choice forces to escalate the war against constitutional gun ownership in the United States. For those of us who live to be free and view the Constitution as sacred as the Koran or Bible, we must learn the tactics used against us and employ them ourselves. As our President famously said in Philadelphia in 2008, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” And those are words to live by.
Update: Blogger Christopher Fountain does what I in good conscience couldn’t.