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 owners. Historically, 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.