Thank you, tirnadhalaigh. You're right about the database of licensed drivers, and I think that should be the model for databases of firearms owners: restrict access, by law, to LEOs--including the ATF, which is apparently out of the loop. Such a provision in the law would have prevented the database from being published by the JN, or at least prompted second thoughts by its legal staff.
In addition, just as we require auto owners to carry liability insurance, we should require the same of firearms owners. We also require auto owners to keep their vehicles in good order and park them in appropriate places: we should do the same with firearms. This is not a "punishment" for auto owners; it's a requirement for responsible ownership of a potentially dangerous vehicle. Why should it be different for the owners of firearms?
My point is that the JN was within its 1st Amendment rights to publish under present law. *Should* they have done so? That's debatable. Does publishing the public database now justify people encouraging others to hound people who are NOT in that public database--including anyone who disagrees with them? Because that's what I'm seeing folks do *now*, and that scares the bejeezus out of me--that's your "witch hunt" right there.
The other issue is, of course, the privacy of information on the internet, which has raised the stakes by an order of magnitude. We're ALL vulnerable there, whether or not we've done something wrong, in a way that we weren't when ink and paper on your doorstep were all that was involved. And we're still working out what that means, and in real time.
Thank you for a thoughtful reply to my post--I do appreciate it. Beannachtaí a thabhairt duit!
Thank you for the compliment! It's especially meaningful, coming from someone who has expressed his/her opinion here 26 times on various issues since June, to hear that my sole post on one issue has the potential to "stop the debate." But if you say so... View Comment
At the risk of being excoriated by every right-thinking soul in Westchester County, I'd like to point out a few things.
1. Under current law, the database of legally permitted handgun owners is public information. When you take out a permit, you run the risk of having your name made public *under current law.* The Journal News has the right to publish public information. If people want this information to be restricted, the law needs to be changed, *and probably should be*, particularly in the case of law enforcement and other first responders. But censorship of the press is not the way to solve the issue. If you are concerned, contact your representatives in government and lobby for a change in the law. Publishing the addresses and phone numbers of Journal News employees on Facebook in retaliation (yes, I've seen that, and one person even published *mine* too, just for disagreeing with him: I had to delete the thread) doesn't help advance the conversation.
2. Those who argue that publishing the database somehow makes permitted handgun owners, or alternatively those who do not have permits, uniquely vulnerable to criminal activity are overlooking several factors.
(a) A database of permitted handgun owners is not the equivalent of a database of owners of *all firearms*. Rifles, shotguns and other "long guns" are not registered in New York State. Someone with criminal intent who assumes a home without a listed handgun is totally undefended may be in for a well-leaded surprise.
(b) Any responsible firearms owner should have a means of securing their weapon so that it is not accessible to anyone but the owner. Safes and trigger locks are readily available and affordable to anyone who can afford a legal firearm. (We simply don't know what measures Nancy Lanza took to secure her firearms, if any. That does not obviate the need for adequate security on the part of all owners.)
(c) The scenario of a criminal reading a name in the Journal News and breaking in to steal a legally registered firearm ignores the fact that illegal firearms are easily obtainable through many other means. An easily traced, registered handgun would be a liability for a criminal rather than an asset.
I am concerned at the lack of critical reasoning displayed by a number of commenters on this issue that I have encountered on various websites and on Facebook. The willingness, even eagerness, to muzzle the press, the hysterical overreactions (a friend compared it to publishing the names of registered pedophiles. Really? Handgun owners=pedophiles?!?...) do not bode well for the safe and thoughtful resolution of the issue of the status of firearms in our communities. Please, everybody: aim before firing.
As ever, YMMV. View Comment