PUBLISHING GUN OWNER NAMES

On Saturday 12-22-2012 the Journal News in New York State published the addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties in an article titled “Map: Where are the gun permits in your neighborhood.” This has generated a lot of predictable media articles and blog postings. Examples include ABC news blog, Daily Mail Online from London and HuffingtonPost. Most of the articles claim that there is widespread outrage but don’t give specific examples.

A blog For What It’s Worth is asking “Did the Journal-Newsbreak the law by posting gun permit holder’ s names?” It quotes a section of a bill in the New York state legislature which forbids giving out lists of holders for geographical areas. A comment points that this is just a bill not passed into law. The attempt to limit the requests shows something about the depth of concerns about privacy by gun advocates.

A tweet search shows about 20 critical tweets about “publishing gun owners” and several media articles claiming widespread outrage.

This looks to me more like an assumption on the part of the media than a lot of actual expression. If the intuition of journalists that a lot of objection to breaking gun owners privacy is there, they are probably right; but it’s not clear that it immediately surfaces. While I think that potentially vocal gun owners have deep feelings about being involuntarily made public, they have not yet been mobilized by a current threat. Perhaps the greater fear is that government identification is more important than public identification.

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