Why It’s OK to Publish Names and Addresses of Gun Owners. Or Not.

nj.com (a.k.a., the Star-Ledger) isn’t blind to the fact that tri-state area gun owners were less-than-trilled with the nearby Journal News‘ interactive map of New York gun owners (in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties). “Those named were furious,” the Star-Ledger’s Editorial Board acknowledges. “They said the map, which listed personal information — but not numbers or types of guns registered — made them targets for gun thieves. Some compared it to being listed as sex offenders. But that criticism is overblown. For one, no one suggested that it is wrong to own a gun.” Wait. What? I thought that was the entire point of the exercise. Silly me. “This was a release of public information, nothing more,” Articles don’t hurt people. People hurt people. Anyway, it gets worse . . .

And let’s face it: This is useful information for parents trying to help their children navigate a safe path in a nation with 270 million guns. The guns that Adam Lanza used to kill 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School were legally bought and owned by his mother.

So I guess that means that ANY of those 270m guns could be used by a spree killer. So we should fear ALL of those guns. Right?

So ask yourself this: Would you let your daughter baby-sit if you knew those guns were in the house? If your child regularly visited a home you knew contained a gun, would it not be legitimate to ask the owner if he keeps it under lock and key? And would that discussion not improve public safety all around?

Are these guys serious? They equate asking a fellow citizen if they have firearms the same as publicly publishing the information for anyone to see? The word “disingenuous” just got a new definition. Not to mention the phrase “willful ignorance.”

And what if you knew the family well enough to have concerns about the mental health of one of the family members, or even a regular visitor? What if you knew that someone in the house had a serious drug addiction? Would a cautionary call to the local police be out of line? What if Lanza’s neighbors knew an assault weapon was handy? Those concerns were all part of the Journal News’ decision to alert readers to the guns in their communities.

There’s a not-so-fine line between sensing a genuine danger and making “cautionary” calls to the cops. A line between looking out for one another and living in a world where legal gun owners are public pariahs and everyone’s ratting-out everyone else (e.g. East Germany before the Wall came down).

New Jersey has long been a state where residents have sacrificed personal liberty for [an illusion of] public safety. Nothing in this editorial indicates anything has changed in that regard. In fact, nj.com is jealous of The News Journal’s editorial “courage” . . .

In New Jersey, most of this information is not public. Statistics on the background checks conducted when guns are purchased is public, but under state law, personal information about gun owners is private. That is something the Legislature should discuss in the wake of Sandy Hook, starting with a sober assessment of whether this knowledge would actually encourage the burglaries that gun owners in New York say they fear.

Gun owners say they feel safer when armed to defend their families and property. Others might feel safer armed with information, knowing where guns are kept.

Don’t ask, just read? What kind of world would that be?