Tuesday, January 8, 2013
The Journal News And Public Information...
As all of you know by now, last week a liberal newspaper in New York, the Journal News, released names and addresses of legal, registered gun owners in two New York counties. They obtained the information with a Freedom of Information Act request to the state records office and subsequently published the information on an interactive web page connected to their paper. Clicking on one of the bubbles will give you the name and exact address of each particular gun owner.
The newspaper was absolutly within their right to obtain and publish this public information. The question is whether or not they should have and whether, regardless of how legal it was - it was ethical.
What the Journal News did last week was not only inform people in various neighborhoods of who in the area had guns but gave them exact addresses where the guns are most likely located. This information goes out to criminals as well as honest, law-abiding citizens. It also published names and addresses of police officers, correctional officers, judges, court officials, etc. Already in several prisons and jails around the state there are inmates talking to correctional staff about where they live. The Journal News, possibly ignorant of what could happen (but probably not), has put these people and their families in danger, not only for possible break-ins to the house but for retaliatory actions from criminals and their families.
An interesting question was raised on a TV show this evening. People who are on welfare and other public assistance are probably on a public role somewhere that could be obtained by the media. Would they target these people to let the public know who may be using their tax dollars? Does the general public not have a right to know which of their neighbors are using their tax dollars to live their daily lives? It's public record, isn't it? So why not make that information public?
The answer is simple - it would not serve their anti-gun agenda. One person interviewed, a man who is high up in a university somewhere (Sorry - I can't remember where he works) refused to answer when asked "If you were a publisher would you have released the information?" His answer was "I'm not a publisher." He was asked a second time "Let's pretend you are a publisher. Would you release informtion like that which could put people in jeopardy?" His answer, again, was "I'm not a publisher." Since he absolutely defended the right of the newspaper to release the information and said if they didn't they would be "covering it up" (even though they had to petition the state to get it), it certainly leads one to believe that he was in favor of obtaining and releasing this type of information and thinks it's a good thing. I just hope one of his family members isn't on the list to become a victim.
This gun control issue has certainly gotten out of hand since the shooting of young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month. The Journal News, in its "quest for truth" decided that everyone should be informed of who owns guns in their neighborhood, complete with the names and addresses of those gun owners. What they obviously don't realize is that their release of information basically proves what legal gun owners have been saying all the time. There is a great number of gun owners in the areas released by the newspaper yet I would bet 99.9% of them have never shot anyone or used their gun in a violent crime. People who own guns legally rarely use them to commit crimes. Of course, I'm not saying it doesn't happen. The Aurora, Colorado, shooter bought his gun legally. It happens. But compared to the number of legal gun owners who never commit a crime those numbers are pretty small.
No one who owns guns and supports the Second Amendment is dismissing the Sandy Hook shooting as anything less than a terrible tragedy. No one should have to die in complete fear like that but especially not children. The guns used in that incident, however, were not at fault. They were doing the bidding of a very disturbed man. With the exception of stupid accidents, guns only kill people when they are used by other people with specific intent. And I say "stupid accidents" because most accidental shootings are cause by someone doing something stupid.
The other thing that the News Journal article did was give criminals easy access to homes that contain guns. An intelligent criminal can now monitor a house that is known to have weapons inside and break into it when the owners aren't home. And now they know what to look for.
Finally, after learning that many of the people whose names and addresses were published are angry about it, the very newspaper that published the names and addresses in their anti-gun crusade hired armed guards to protect their newspaper and employees. Funny how that works, huh? It's rather similar to President Obama's attitude about armed guards in schools. He's against it, saying he doesn't really want armed guards protecting school children - even as his daughters attend a school that has at least eleven armed guards on duty every day. Certainly he's the President and his daughters need to be protected. But they have Secret Service to protect them. The armed guards are employees of the school. I guess what he's saying is "My kids need to be protected but yours don't....."
The bottom line is that the Journal News published "public information" that has put people in danger and they are vigorously defending their right to do so. There used to be a code of ethics in journalism - just because you could publish something didn't mean you had to. That no longer seems to be the case with many news outlets. Ethics and decency seem to take a back seat to sensationalism and political crusades. If anything bad happens to one of the people exposed by the Journal News, I hope the victim sues them for reckless endangerment. I'm sure there's a lawyer or two out there who would be willing to take that case. In the meantime gun owners - guard your freedoms well. Those left-wing zealots who want your guns will stop at nothing to get them.