When John Cook published the names of New York City’s gun owners last week, he unwittingly gave those who ask with incredulity, “how could you be against a gun-owners registry” a one word answer: “Gawker.” His trick, however, was derivative: the Journal News had done the same thing on December 23. And, per the Daily Mail, in consequence:
At least two burglars broke into a house in White Plains, New York, on Saturday and headed straight for the gun safe.
This address and the owner’s name, registered on a permit for legally held firearms, had been published on the controversial gun map published by the Journal News on December 23.
The burglars couldn’t open the safe and the property owner wasn’t home. But this incident has led to speculation that the map is now being used by criminals for targeted gun theft.
It is beyond me why one would need to know who owns guns in their area, unless one thinks that those who go to the trouble of registering their firearms represent an immediate threat. (Hint: They don’t.) In truth, all that the Journal News achieved was to give local criminals a list of where a collection of valuable items are kept. For all the good it did, the paper might as well have announced where the widescreen televisions and expensive cars are housed.
There really is no good reason whatsoever that this information needs to be in the public domain. (Or, for that matter, to be collected in the first place — but that’s a separate argument.) That it is in the public domain is one reason why so many people are skeptical of government keeping tabs on them for exercising their basic rights, especially given the self-evident truth that criminals are rather unlikely to add their names to the rolls. As usual, it is precisely the people who are not a problem for society that end up being tracked and having their privacy compromised. ’Twas ever thus.