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Monday, January 14, 2013

Using Public Disclosure To Persecute Gun Owners

The idiotic (and hopefully not nefarious) disclosure by a suburban New York media outlet of the names and addresses of registered gun owners in two suburban counties may have led to robbers trying to steal weapons from one identified homeowner, despite official denials.

The mania over identifying gun owners is a perverse tactic to effect constittutional change.  The tactic basically reduces to this: Assert your Second Amendment right to own and possess a weapon in your own home -- and face the consequences of being "outed," having one's privacy shredded and having one's property and personal safety placed in mortal danger.

The problem here is not only this one news media outlet, which ignored the risk which publicity would cause gun owners -- or intended to have that very risk serve to effect political change by exacting a high cost on gun owners.   The root cause is the conscious decision by the Rockland and Westchester County governments to disclose this information in response to public record requests.  This information should not be public, because the risk of personal danger outweighs the "public interest" in knowing the names and addresses of gun owners. 

Are we moving towards a nation where overzealous government officials and others in the public can use "public information" to attack others -- through exposure and the logically, reasonably foreseeable consequence of personal danger -- whose behavior or political beliefs they oppose? 

This nation has a Constitution and longstanding body of precedential court decisions which protect the rights of the minority, especially when they are unpopular groups or hold unpopular religious or political beliefs.   

When political zealots can use our laws and the news media to place innocent people in personal harm, how far is our nation from placing identifying symbols on members of disfavored groups?

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