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?

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

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

  1. avatarJoatmon says:

    I guess nj.com is anti gun too. I’m glad Ralph gave that link to the personnel that work at The Journal News. I have sent a few emails already.

  2. avatarfrankgon4 says:

    So is it equally ok to publish homeowners that don’t own a gun?

    • That’s exactly what they’ve done. That’s every address not included on the list of firearm owners.

      If I’m a non-gun owner in one of those counties, I’m just as upset — if not moreso — than the gun owners are. Not only do aspiring burglars and home invaders know which houses have guns (if they want to try to steal them), but they know which houses to target if they want to ensure the least possibility of armed resistance.

      Of course, the lohud.com knuckle-draggers didn’t think this out quite that far. Or did they?

      • avatarAnon in Ct says:

        Well, the list doesn’t tell you who has a rifle or shotty. So it’s really more of a shopping list than a victim list.

        • avatarBob says:

          Maybe, but if the bad guys just avoid the houses on this map they’ve surely reduced their risk of confronting a good guy with a gun.

          Lots of bad guys are thanking nj.com

      • avatarSanchanim says:

        I also heard on a news broadcast that approximately 8,000 of the people listed were either active duty or retired LEO. Why the NYPD union head isn’t demanding their heads on pikes yet is beyond me.
        I don’t think they were thinking at all when they did this piece. Then to turn around and say they will publish an additional 44,000 names, what the heck are they trying to do here??? I mean at some point something will happen and this will be very bad for them..

        • avatarDaniel says:

          They are trying to antagonize you and make themselves known across the internet. They’re doing well, aren’t they? The trick here is going to be to find a creative way to make them sorry… though a blogger has already managed to publish all their names and addresses, haven’t they? Or was that another outfit? Makes one wonder what other ways we can fight fire with fire.

        • avatarSanchanim says:

          @Daniel,
          Yes it was posted in a couple of posts here in the matter. They even have interior shots of their homes.
          Really it will take protests outside their homes to get the point across.
          Or their names and addresses showing up on some gangster social forums…
          Really they stand by their proud achievement. It deeply disturbs me they would be to happy with themselves. They might have endangered innocent people.

        • avatarDirk Diggler says:

          or if someone posted pictures of the editors kids, their schools, their class and practice schedules . . . . just saying

      • avatarCulpeper Kid says:

        When the family of a woman killed by her ex husband or boyfriend when he finds out where she lives sues the paper and the jury awards the plaintifs $50,000,000 maybe the paper will understand the consequences of it’s actions.

  3. avatar6 gunner says:

    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?

    Yeah, there’s this thing called the fourth amendment. It comes just 2 after that evil ol’ 2nd amendment.

    • avatarCA_Chris says:

      Why would you let your kid into a home with a dangerously ill person or drug addict, even if there are no guns in that home?

      • avatar6 gunner says:

        I’m not sure what you mean by dangerously ill? Like ebola? Probably not. Kids can be jerks sometimes though. And last time I checked being a drug addict wasn’t a crime. Nevertheless neither of those are situations requiring police intervention (I’d be more apt to go with the CDC if I thought someone had ebola). Thinking your neighbors have guns or drugs or mental issues and calling the police is just a bit too Orwellian for my tastes and thankfully the fourth amendment limits what the police can do in those situations anyway.

    • avatarFelix says:

      Freakonmics had something to say about this, that if you have one neighbor with a swimming pool and another with guns, your kids are ten (?) times as likely to die visiting the swimming pool neighbor than the guns neighbor.

      So how about a list of homes with swimming pools?

    • avatarWill says:

      Oh yeah… send the kiddies to the crack house…. send the kiddies to the house known by the neighbors for cooking meth. MUCH safer and less influential there than a gun owner’s home.

      [/sarcasm]

  4. avatarRizzy says:

    There’s a flip side to this, aren’t they just displaying who isn’t armed? I would imagine this makes every unarmed home a bigger target for thieves.

  5. avatarDaniel says:

    Ladies and gentlemen: Your burglary guide. Now you can safely consult this handy-dandy map to plan your next burglary at a home that doesn’t have a firearm protecting it. Ready your dicks, it’s raping time!

  6. avatarSee This Also says:

    “Would you let your daughter baby-sit if you knew those guns were in the house?”

    If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of your daughter babysitting at someone’s house if they have guns, but aren’t comfortable enough with the owner to ask them if they have guns in the house, then perhaps your daughter shouldn’t be babysitting at that house regardless.

    The chances of something bad happening to a babysitting daughter without the use of a gun are likely much higher than the chances of something bad happening with the use of a gun…

    • avatarsm424 says:

      Well what if that gun decided to stroll on out of its safe? Maybe while the babysitter is watching TV, and the kids are asleep, it will confront her in the living room! Even worse, it can be one of those BUSHMASTERS!!! ahhhhhhhh!

    • avatarWabiker says:

      Great Point..!
      Thats also one of the primary reasons I instructed MY children on Firearms Safety.

  7. avatarEnsitu says:

    What if the info on all pharmasists were like wise made public?

    • avatarDr. Mike says:

      In NYS it is made public, as are the names and addresses of all licensed professionals. It is available from the NYS Office of the Professions.

  8. avatarWilliam says:

    “For one, no one suggested that it is wrong to own a gun.”

    WAIT. Am I going to have to go back to school to learn the English language all over again?

  9. avatarschizuki says:

    Perhaps they could publish an interactive map of homes of persons diagnosed with mental disorders. You know, for safety’s sake.

    • avatarmounta1neer says:

      I’d settle for an interactive map of all local politicians.

    • avataruncommon_sense says:

      Can someone please post a map of every woman who has had an abortion? Women that have abortions sleep around and I don’t want my children associating with women who sleep around. Or I at least want to ask about the circumstances of that women who sleeps around. Heck, she might even invite men over for sex while my daughter is babysitting. (She needs my daughter to babysit so she can have sex without pesky interruptions.) I surely don’t want my daughter exposed to that behavior.

      What? It would be wrong to publish a map showing the homes of women who had abortions? But I want to know how to keep my children away from, you know, “those people”.

  10. avatarCoyote says:

    I think what needs to be done now is to publish a list of every home for which there is NO licensed firearm owner. Label it, “Homes Not Known to be Protected by Firearms” or something. See how that flies…

  11. avatarLauderdale Vet says:

    Bad Guys are going to be most interested in the houses that DO have guns, because Bad Guys WANT guns. I’d wager that a fair number of those guns live in nightstands, dressers, small portable safes …and don’t leave the house when the owner does.

    • avatarThomas Paine says:

      you are correct sir. You should see all the rusty junk out on the block. With a nickel plated .45 worth about seven or eight bundles, lots of crackheads would love to take the chance. Good thing they don’t have internet.

      I guess we’ll see.

  12. avatarCasey T says:

    When my daughter is old enough to babysit, I hope there are guns there because she will know how to shoot by then. That way she is safer.

    • avatarJJ says:

      I thought the exact same thing!! Hell, give her the code to the safe just in case, if you feel comfortable. She WILL have been taught how to handle and respect guns by the age of 12, I can promise you that.

  13. avatargloomhound says:

    I would want a list of all the state and federal law enforcement officers names and address as well…..it’s for the children.

  14. avatarPantera Vazquez says:

    So no one sees the big picture. A gun hating liberal paper publishes the addresses of gun owners. Some of those guns will be stolen, thanks to the shopping list provided by the press. Stolen guns WILL get used in crimes, so it justifies the gun grabbing position of the paper. A means to an end. However, it now gets justified with the logic of “knowing where the nuts are”,(just do not for a second look at our TRUE objective).

  15. avatarCurzen says:

    Articles don’t hurt people. People hurt people.

    agreed

  16. avatarMr Pierogie says:

    Anybody here from PA who needs a house mate? Time to move out…. Man, NJ is so full of stupid…

    • avatarTony says:

      If you think an op-ed from that rag of a paper is bad, what ’til you hear what our esteemed Senators have to say about DIFI’s bill.

      I hear Texas is nice this time of year.

  17. avatarFenceJumper says:

    Everything that is going on is truly terrifying. It reminds me of a mix between Cloud Atlas and Fahrenheit 451, where the government is all knowing and people have 0 freedom other than what the government says you can have. Next thing we know there is gonna be a book burning because it mentions anything to do with Christianity…

  18. avatarCasey T says:

    Again, this is illegal. Just by Googling “Freedom of Information Act exemptions” I found this link: http://www.sec.gov/foia/nfoia.htm. 6. A personnel, medical, or similar file the release of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

    • avatarCasey T says:

      Also,
      7. Compiled for law enforcement purposes, the release of which…..
      f. could reasonably be expected to endanger an individual’s life or physical safety;

      • avatarCasey T says:

        So, any decent lawyer should be able to make a case that the disclosure of said information is illegal and could successfully win a law suit. If anyone publishes my data, I hope they are willing to pay. Also, sorry for the string post but I’m doing this from my phone since I won’t be around a computer for awhile.

        • avatarRalph says:

          Casey T, you’re citing the Federal FOIA. The Federal act has nothing to do with this case. New York has it’s own FOIA.

        • avatarCasey T says:

          Ralph, if you violate the exemption in a federal law, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal on the state level.

  19. avataruncommon_sense says:

    I think I smell a massive class-action lawsuit on the horizon. And I think the award from that lawsuit will cause nj.com or the Star Ledger or whatever the name of the business entity is that published that map to cease operations permanently.

    • avatarCasey T says:

      I’d sue the agencies that granted the FOIA request in the first place since the information is protected.

      • avatar40&2000 says:

        I have some experience with FOIA’d documents and in every case I’ve been involvement in people’s Pii was redacted unless they were a government or law enforcement official action in their official capacity. Maybe the rules are different for different agencies but I was very surprised by this.

  20. avatarAPBTFan says:

    All the more reason for Constitutional Carry.

  21. avatarsurlycmd says:

    Some people feel morally superior to others and a polite discussion does not work. A perfect example of why beating the crap out of a bully is justified. Some people just have to learn the hard way.

  22. avatarLance says:

    Shows the lame brain of the media. Let felons know here excops they where arrested by are and know here to find them. All in the name of hating gun owners. Lets list the names address and phone number of all media reporters and anchormen and let them know how much we hate (disdain) them back!

    • avatarGreg Camp says:

      Exactly. The privacy of a gun owner is of equal value as the privacy of a newspaper reporter, editor, or publisher. The problem is that as papers become increasingly irrelevant, they head more and more into tabloid work.

  23. avatarSkyler says:

    If I were a lawyer in New Jersey, I’d be watching for burglaries reported at these places and offer to represent the homeowners in suing the paper and its owners.

    • avatarRalph says:

      And how would you prove nexus? Unless you could prove that the burglar read the paper and committed a burglary that he otherwise wouldn’t have done, there’s no case against the paper. And even if you could prove that the burglar read the story and that it drove him to action, there’s still no case unless you can prove that the paper knew or should have known. And since the information is in the public domain according to NY FOIA, even if you can prove everything, you’d still lose.

  24. avatarKenW says:

    You folks just keep giving me reasons to never move up north. The local mullet wrappers would never do this ( but I suspect they would like to judging from the articles I’ve read ) as their butts would be in a jam with the state.

  25. avatarGw says:

    And what government agency is responsible for collecting and releasing this entirely private information? Aren’t persons in government required by law to keep private information as such, and is it not their Moral and legal obligations as servants of the people, to ‘secure the rights of the Citizens to their just privacy’? Since this must be so, then the primary attention should first be focused upon ferreting out those persons in government who were derelict in their responsibility and summarily dismissed of any further service.
    In regard to those involved in the media:
    if true that these ’gun owners’ are in any sense such grave and actual threats, and are indeed the evil, conscienceless individuals those in the ‘media’ are intent upon trying to cause the unknowing and easily duped to believe they are — then how is it that such sniveling cowards as those in the media can go about so freely violating the ‘Rights’ of their fellow Citizens to their privacy; demean them; insult their very character, and yet all the while remain wholly devoid of even second thoughts of repercussions to their actions, let alone evidence even the slightest measure of fear over so much as the most modest form of retaliation for their obvious offenses?

    • avatarJJ says:

      Well put. And the only answer I can fathom is that they are so convinced that their cause is righteous, they are willing to risk themselves almost as much as we are. But we are ready to die, so in a battle of attrition, guess who wins.

  26. avatarAharon says:

    I wonder if this will backfire on the gun-grabbers and more people will go out and buy guns to include handguns that require the special permit in NY. All those who do not have a handgun (or a long gun) might feel they should have one or two since criminals could believe they have no guns at home and would be an easy target. Better to have a gun and be known for it than to be an unarmed helpless sheep.

  27. avatarRKBA says:

    These Names and Addresses?

    Journal News President:
    —Janet Hasson, 3 Gate House Lane Mamaroneck, NY 10534 (914) 694.5204

    Editors:
    —Cyndee Royle, 1133 Westchester Ave., Suite N110, White Plains, NY 10604, 914-694-9300
    –Nancy Cutler 9 Woodwind Ln, Spring Valley, NY. (845) 354 3485

    Parent company of The Journal News Gannett
    —–CEO Gracia C Martore 728 Springvale Rd Great Falls, VA 22066 (703) 759 5954

    The reporter on the story is:
    –Dwight R Worley 23006 139 Ave Springfield Gardens, NY 11413 (718) 527 0832

  28. avatarC J says:

    So couldn’t this “public” information be used as a reason to do away with firearm registration? It seems to me that a right to privacy was one of the reasons abortion was “legalised”. Making registration info public would also interfere with the owner’s “right to privacy”. This may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, if some enterprising lawyers would get involved. The gun owners would need to be compensated by the state for their “pain and suffering” (and legal fees).

  29. avatarSaul Feldstein says:

    I would think targetting a known gun home might get you SHOT.

  30. avatarSilver says:

    I hope these scumbags get more than they bargained for.

  31. avatarLevi B says:

    I wouldn’t care if my kids babysat in a house with guns, because if they’re responsible enough to be responsible for younger children, they will clearly be old enough to know about gun safety if not gun handling. But call me crazy.

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