« Why Darting Isn't Hunting | Main | The Gun Nut: Top Five Posts Of 2006 »

December 14, 2006

This page has been moved to http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nut

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The Gun Nut at its new location: www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nut.

New York Newspaper Invading Gun Owners Privacy?

America is a nation of laws…poorly written and randomly enforced.
—Frank Zappa
 
Here’s one for you to debate: On December 10,  The Journal News, a newspaper that covers downstate New York, published an article on the handgun-permit system in three counties. The system, it seems, is a shambles, relying on outdated records-keeping methods and a lack of communication among various government agencies rendering the whole enterprise ineffectual. The most serious flaw, according to the article, is that when handgun owners die the permit bureaus are not notified of their deaths, and so thousands of their files pertain to deceased persons, and the agencies have no idea what became of their guns.

All of this is quite accurate. However, as part of the article, the Journal News published a URL where its readers could download a Microsoft Excel file containing the name and town of residence (actual addresses were omitted) of every handgun-permit holder in Westchester County (including myself).

Now there are several points of view about this:
It may or may not be an outrageous invasion of privacy.
It’s a terrific way of informing criminals where they can go to steal handguns.
It’s a terrific way of warning criminals which households to stay out of if they don’t want to get shot.

I was curious about the reasoning behind publishing the website, and e-mailed the paper. I received a reply from Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, one of the two reporters who did the piece. It said, in part:

“…The list serves as a database to be checked and purged by readers and/or officials. In addition, it was the belief among editors at the Journal News that many in their community would consider it a public service to know who among their neighbors and/or acquaintances has a weapon in their home, including parents making personal choices about play dates for their children, etc. (my Italics)

“The licensing and upkeep of pistol permits is also a public process carried out by public employees whose salaries and services are funded by the tax dollars of all citizens. It is therefore deemed by state lawmakers to be a public record….

“As a member of the media yourself, I am certain you are aware of both the newspaper’s right to publish the information and the responsibility shown in editing the public record to omit home address…”

Gentlemen, your opinions, please.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b54869e200d834cf19fd53ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference New York Newspaper Invading Gun Owners Privacy?:

Comments

tay

I'm too angry to say anything intelligent right now. You should move far far away. Come chill in Carolina where the cops don't shoot unarmed citizen's multiple times and guns are still carried in gun racks in the back of trucks.

Ted Strong

Just because they could publish it doesn't mean they should have.

And tay, depending on which Carolina you're in, did you see the brouhaha in Wilmington recently. Granted, the dead young man wasn't a pillar of society, but he wasn't armed either.

Dennis

Up here in Canada A toronto newspaper published the names and addreses of all the ontario gunowners in their paper and on their website. Shortly afterwards there was a number of robberies in the toronto area. There is a lawsuit being launched and the thing is the canadian firearms centre willingly gave them the information. Shortly after the gun data base was given back to the RCMP who happen to loose a large amount of our handgun records.

Mike Diehl

It's true that a magazine can be published from almost anywhere. Why stay there and live with all that?

Dave, maybe you should publish the names and street addressese of the editors of the paper that put all those gun owners in the public eye. Right below one of those NRA ads in F&S. I think they'll get the message.

DREW

To me the only lesson to take out of this is to be very wary of registering guns with the government. I know that is illegal in some cases, and am not suggesting that people break laws. I just think we should be aware of the future implications of today's actions.

Josh

It sounds like the paper just wrote a blank check to any handgun owner on that list who happens to be robbed, invaded or otherwise victimized in the next few weeks.

I would think that with the right lawyer, civil damages would be easy to show in such a case.

Kristine Shreve

Couldn't they have accomplished the same goal of cleaning up the database by publishing an e-mail address or URL where people could go to report that a gun owner had died, or to check the existing records?

In some cases, like the sex offender registry, I agree that names should be published, because those individuals could be potentially harmful. Lawfully having a gun in your home does not make you a threat and should not be anyone's business but yours and whomever you choose to tell.

Publishing it in the paper was an invasion of privacy in my opinion.

ford

In Minnesota, there's no gun rack in the back of the trucks, but gun owners are welcome and and have thier privacy respected. The weathers no to bad either.

Rich Mitchell

You know, the NRA went to court to prevent airlines from specially marking declared firearms cases to prevent theft from baggage personnel. I imagine that there would be a similar contributory liability here.

There was a photo back in the early part of the 20th century that showed four or five boys with firearms - they were used for hunting and the commment was that once upon a time our children were taught how to responsibly handle firearms. Would be nice to get back to that.

Darren Penny

Two issues here: first, the newspaper was responding to a governmental problem and if that were the true story they should have published the names of the public (government) employees who were responsible for the mismanagement of the public trust, tax money and dereliction of their job responsibilities in failing to manage a simple database.

Secondly, to publish the names of gun owners and imply that to befriend them or their children would be a risk is certainly a defamatory and slanderous posture. It hints of a personal agenda rather than true news worthy reporting or service to the community. Clearly an abuse of their readers trust.

Time to find a new "news" source.

Michael Powers

What do you expect from a state that would elect Hilary Rodham Clinton? Welcome to the world of sheeple!!!

Gflyz

So, by the Jorge Fitz-Gibbon's logic the following records should be publicized - since, of course, "they are also a public process carried out by public employees whose salaries and services are funded by the tax dollars of all citizens. It is therefore deemed by state lawmakers to be a public record…."

1. Medicaid records - don't you think we should know what illnesses run in people's families so we (and our precious children) can deem whos safe and who is not to play with/visit, etc...

2. Tax Records - boy I want to go after the tax dodgers and make sure that everyone pays their fair share. My kids won't play a minute with these scoundrels.

3. Social Security Numbers and Contribution records...again, can't wait to find out which of my neighbors violates the law...

4. Patent/Copyright/Trademark submissions. While we're at it -these processes are conducted by public employees - so shouldn't i have a say in what they can and can't do. Plus - I think it's my civic duty to see what crap the applicants are submitting so I can tell all my friends not to buy said crap.

John B.

What a bunch of smug, self-serving jerks! They aren't even worthy of anger: just contempt.

JC Blauvelt

These reporters have the same attitude that the NY Times did when they published the story about terrorist money transfer wire taps. They are smug, pompous, little brats. To heck with what is right. They have their agenda to push.
Mr. Powers is correct. Using their logic, I want to see the public health records. I do not want my family members exposed to people with sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS. I can just hear the self righteous screaming coming from them if you brought that up.
It is an embarrassment to live in New York State. Just look at who our senators are and who was elected governor and Attorney general.

A. S. Moeggs

Hey Demko, what do you think about this?

Since there is still geographical jabbing going on, is inbreeding in the Carolina's still popular?

Richard A. Smith

Darren Penny wrote:
"Secondly, to publish the names of gun owners and imply that to befriend them or their children would be a risk is certainly a defamatory and slanderous posture. It hints of a personal agenda rather than true news worthy reporting or service to the community. Clearly an abuse of their readers trust"

I agree with Darren, and I think you should do two things ASAP:
1) Call an attorney; there must be *something* to sue these idiots for.
2) Call a real estate agent; move out of that state, pronto. Utah is a terrific place to live, just ask Jim Zumbo, who, as you probably know, lives in nearby Wyoming. And Texas is a close second.

Richard A. Smith

And, a little idea just crossed my mind. Wouldn't it be nice if we could get a little email whenever Dave adds to this blog?

Ralph the Rifleman

This is just crazy!
1)Invasion of Privacy-Major issue for me.
2)OK-List the information for the safety of children? Please read,"Gun owners cannot be trusted"
What, in God's name, is going on in NY??
3)Time to send more $$ to the NRA legal fund!
Damn, It's time to move my Freakin A** out west!

Shawn

This was brought up right after Kansas (finally) passed a Concealed Carry law earlier this year over the Democratic Governor's veto. The law as originally written did not address whether the personal information was to be made available to the public. I believe there is a political consensus that it does not need to be public info., so a subsequent law was passed (or will be passed next year) stating such. At the time I was ticked that there was even a debate about it, but better that it be clarified ahead of time rather than waking up one morning and "reading your address in the paper."

Charlie

The Journel News is about as left a paper as you can get.Putting gun owners at risk was the whole point.They also want the County police to take charge of the whole gun permit process.With an anti gun county executive,all it takes is a phone call and the approvel rate will drop.

Michael

This is a clear and blantant violation of every gun owners right and expextation to privacy. It also shows how anti gun the MSM really is to put you and yours in danger. Just pure negligence.

Gunstar1

That information is private in Georgia.

So even though "The licensing and upkeep of pistol permits is also a public process carried out by public employees whose salaries and services are funded by the tax dollars of all citizens", in Georgia, "It is therefore deemed by state lawmakers to be a private record…".

JA Demko

A.S. Moeggs,
I think that this was legal, but wrong. I'm cynical enough, though, to never expect any kind of logical connection between what is legal and what is morally right.

craig curtis

these gentlemen , useing the term loosely are as transparent as glass . they obviously want all their anti freinds to have their blood pressure increased when jhonny has a b-day party to attend . check the list dear is their name on it ? whata joke. but on second thought who wants a bunch of self serving punk ass anti gun freaks or their off spring in their house???? see a silver lining dave . their trying to make us feel like pedifiles it aint gunna happen ! im starting to feel sorry for you guys up their .

craig curtis

these gentlemen , useing the term loosely are as transparent as glass . they obviously want all their anti freinds to have their blood pressure increased when jhonny has a b-day party to attend . check the list dear is their name on it ? whata joke. but on second thought who wants a bunch of self serving punk ass anti gun freaks or their off spring in their house???? see a silver lining dave . their trying to make us feel like pedifiles it aint gunna happen ! im starting to feel sorry for you guys up their .




Our Blogs

Categories



Syndicate