The Scarlet Letter: A Is for “Armed”

Which facts may the press ethically reveal about private citizens?

Gannett’s Journal News set off a firestorm this week, when it published an interactive map of people with handgun permits in Westchester and Rockland counties, and with plans to enlarge the coverage to include Putnam County.

I’ll really be intrigued to see if they expand to NYC. I am curious as hell to know if Mike Bloomberg and Richard Gere have carry permits, as is rumored.

I suspect that the intrepid truthers will quit short of Manhattan, to avoid the ire of big wheels living in the Five Boroughs who don’t want their information published. Here is a question for the Journal News: Does the map reflect a complete reporting or was there any editing out of friends, advertisers, family etc.?

This map of gun owners reeks of false indignation and overactive sensationalism. Years ago, pre-Fox, Geraldo Rivera was on a tear about guns until he was asked about his having a carry permit. He neither admitted nor denied the question; instead he hid behind some foolishness about not divulging anything that might compromise the safety of his family. The press has no problem rappelling into anyone’s distress, but when the safety of journalist Richard Engel was at stake, having been kidnapped in Syria, mum was the word.

So now, more of our law abiding neighbors will be branded with the Scarlet A for “Armed.” Neighbors will be shocked and dismayed to discover that they live among gun ownersHistorically, gun control laws were for undesirable “others,” who couldn’t be trusted with the same firepower that sensible (white, male, landowning) gun owners held.

If your neighbor is now one of “them” and you are glad to know of it, ask yourself what other secrets the press should reveal by address. Tax records? Home and car ownership information?

Names and addresses of licensed gun owners being published in this way makes it easier for those who want to steal guns, and shames gun owners as criminals.

Is there any reason to publish the names and addresses of private citizens who have licenses to own firearms?

Discuss in the comments.


A longer version of this article appeared at StandUp2P

Read more about Guns on The Good Life.


About the Editors

We're all in this together.


  1. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    No. Publication is destructive and invasive of privacy.

  2. The editors should have their home addresses and perhaps net-worth published and a large sign put in their front yard saying, “This household is Police certified to be Gun Free.” Especially after the next hurricane or civil disorder.
    Why, exactly, should they object?

  3. Kind of like this.

    My ethics reach almost to my wallet.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    The excuses laid out for this may seem reasonable to the unreasonable. But, once the gun thing is off the front pages–because only black people are being killed by them–the excuses will remain. Public’s right to know, for example.
    And somebody may decide that STDs merit the same disclosure. Entirely reasonable. And, under Obamacare, the government may have a good deal of data. Remember when Joe the Plumber asked Obama a question which Obama answered truthfully–but not tactically a good idea–and the weasels in the government started looking for dirt in the government’s files?
    How about treatment for mental illness? Marriage or family counseling?
    Why should juvenile criminal records be secret?
    Yes, the gun issue will be gone but the excuses and rationalizations will remain.

    May the journos be the first to taste that particular joy.

Speak Your Mind