When I lived in England, I would rail against the government’s intrusion into its citizens’ private lives. During my time on the island, the U.K. became the most surveilled country on planet Earth. The natives weren’t restless. “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.” It’s the same argument gun control groups use when they lobby in favor of gun registries. “Legal owners have nothing to fear.” Yes, well, what about this, then?
A rookie Los Angeles police officer has resigned amid allegations he illegally tapped into a law enforcement computer on behalf of a gang member who was recently convicted of murder. The officer, Gabriel Morales, 25, was seeking information on two key witnesses who testified at the gang member’s murder trial, according to court records. Morales had been dating the gang member’s sister for several years.
The latimes.com quotes a top cop to instruct us on the lesson we’re supposed to learn from this potentially lethal hacking (ignoring the unauthorized access we don’t know about):
“Every officer has the choice between making good decisions and bad decisions. They have to ask themselves, ‘Am I going to let something a family member has done jeopardize everything I’ve worked for or am I going to do what’s right?’ ” said Capt. Steven Zipperman, commanding officer at the LAPD’s Southwest Area Division, where Morales was assigned. “Unfortunately, sometimes officers get into these situations and end up with their moral compass pointing in the wrong direction.”
Like we couldn’t see that one coming.
I call it the Field of Nightmares problem. If you build it (a database of gun ownership info), the bad guys will come. And they’re most likely to come down the road to hell, paved as it is with good intentions. But not always.
In any case, the easiest way to avoid an indefensible compromise of personal gun ownership data is not to collect it. That’s supposed to be the law. Somebody ought to tell California (long guns) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (and really big fires).