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Journal News Continues Irresponsible Publicity Stunt

It seems like bloggers and journalists have two options right now for their discussions…fiscal cliff or guns.  The New York based Journal News decided to jump into the gun control discussion on Christmas Eve with a map of gun owners in their area.  The accompanying article was titled, “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood.” 

Of course the map was followed by immediate outrage by many gun owners.  The article has swept across the internet, inflaming the discussion of gun control, and now privacy, even further.  As I’ve discussed previously, I tend to fall just a little to the right on this issue.  I thought the publication of the map was unnecessary and foolish.  When confronted with the stupidity of this article, I saw many people who are against guns say that gun owners shouldn’t be ashamed of owning our weapons.  I don’t think they get the point.

First, their is nothing illegal about this article.  The information was easily accessible through public records.  However, it is irresponsible for that paper to publish the map to the homes of these people.  And they are promising to add more owners to the map as they become available.  It is obvious at this point that the paper is simply doing this to keep the controversy going and gain publicity. 

When it comes to gun ownership, I have no problem telling anyone that I own a gun.  In fact, I carry mine anywhere that I am legally permitted.  I would be happy for everyone to know that I keep multiple guns in my home.  That way they know what that burning and stinging sensation in their ass is when they break into my home.  The people that should really be upset about this map are the people who don’t own guns.  The interactive map allows anyone to zoom in to street level and see exactly which homes have registered owners.  If I were a criminal…that would give me a pretty good map that I could use to avoid breaking into homes in which people could defend themselves.

Don’t be too hasty though, criminals….rifles and shotguns are not required to be registered in their area.  Where I live, pistols aren’t even required to be permitted if they are for home defense.  You only have to have a permit if you want to carry your firearms. 

In response to the article, at least one blogger (probably more) has published the names and addresses of the editors and staff of the paper.  Turn about is fair play, right?  It’s still public record.  In the Huffington Post article I read about the paper adding more names, a journalism professor at the State University of New York, Howard Good, said that the response by those bloggers “doesn’t move the issue of gun control to the level of intelligent public discussion.  Instead, it transforms what should be a rational public debate on a contentious issue into ugly gutter fighting.”  I believe he’s correct, but I think he aimed his remark at the wrong people.  Those bloggers did nothing more than the paper did in its original article.  The paper began this problem by choosing to post the map.  They are continuing it by adding more names. 

What is very likely to happen now is that there will be legislation introduced to keep gun permit records private except to prosecutors and law enforcement.  In fact, one state Senator in New York is already planning on introducing this legislation.  This means that our access to information will be further restricted because of the newspaper’s publicity stunt.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar legislation pop up around the country as well. 

Had this paper simply stated that a specific number of registered owners and informed the readers that they could gain access to a list of registered owners through a public records search, they would have made the same point without causing an uproar.  Of course they wouldn’t be benefiting from the increased traffic to their website and extra publicity.  This is a major problem with the media today.  It is the reason that our discourse is so polarized.  Simply reporting the news without bias or attempts to stir up controversy isn’t as profitable.  Journalism has become a cesspool of irresponsible entertainers that will do whatever is necessary to get readers fired up – regardless of the potential consequences.  Maybe you all are just better off sticking to my blog and my articles on TACD News…at least I’ll admit those are opinion pieces.

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