Social Question

jca's avatar

Do you think it should be illegal for a newspaper or media to print the names and addresses of firearms permit holders?

Asked by jca (28189 points ) January 4th, 2013

In the area I live in, the local paper recently obtained, from Freedom of Information Act, a list of names and addresses for local firearms permit holders. It published the list by County, and has an interactive map where you can click on an area and see who has a permit in each area.

This has been debated and discussed on Facebook and in the national media. Supposedly, the paper’s offices have to be patrolled by armed guards now, because of the uproar. Firearms advocates and many other people feel it’s a violation of individuals’ privacy to publish this list. One of my coworkers has a husband who is a detective, and his name was published. She was upset because she feels it’s a violation of their privacy.

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Do you think that it’s acceptable to publish names and addresses of firearms permit holders?

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48 Answers

Seek's avatar

Address is unacceptable. I don’t understand why they publish ANY addresses, save public offices and businesses.

Names, yeah, I’d like to know whether my kid’s friend’s drunken dad is packing heat at Playgroup.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

It’s public information, the newspaper is only trying to increase readership.

jonsblond's avatar

I do feel this is an invasion of privacy. Just a thought, doesn’t this give criminals a list of homes they can break into to steal a gun?

Seek's avatar

@jonsblond In Florida it’s a list of homes you can legally be murdered in, no questions asked. Well, really, that’s any home, but that’s one where the probability is heightened drastically.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s not illegal, that information is in the public records. Is it ethically correct? Probably not.

Pachy's avatar

I’m a gun hater, but I believe this is an invasion of privacy.

wundayatta's avatar

I definitely want to know who has a gun. That way I can avoid these people at all costs. I can keep my children from entering their homes. There is no knowing if they have secured their guns properly. These people, in my opinion, are a menace to society.

If you don’t have a gun, you can’t use a gun. Only legal gun owners or illegal gun possessors will be shooting guns. We can’t know about the illegal possessors, but at least we can know about the legal ones, who are just as bad, as far as I’m concerned.

Coloma's avatar

We have no issue with public announcements for drunk driving arrests, marriage, divorce filing, property exchanges but there’s something wrong with posting firearm permits issued? Uh..I don’t think so.
If we have a “right” to know peoples marital and divorce stats, that Fred Smith was arrested for a DUI on Saturday night on our local highway and the whereabouts of pedophiles, well…I’d like to know whose packin’ too.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why would they do that?

Deshi_basara's avatar

Yes. It should be illegal. What does one gain from knowing the location of drunk drivers and pedofiles? Safety.
What does one gain by knowing where firearm owners live? Nothing

What do previously mentioned criminals gain from having that information published? Public shaming, which has been proven to reduce repeat offenders and new instances of said crimes.

What do firearm owners gain? Problems.

It is not the same guys. Quit comparing apples to oranges.

Responsible gun owners are the the problem with our society. Quit ailenating and chastizing them.

burntbonez's avatar

No. Why not? It’s public information for a reason.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@burntbonez Can I have your address and cell phone number so I can post it on Face Book?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Deshi_basara… Did you mean to say “Responsible gun owners are NOT the problem with our society”?

majorrich's avatar

Posting the address is a horrific invasion of privacy. The paper is wide wide open for litigation.

jerv's avatar

Public records are public.

Coloma's avatar

I agree about not posting addresses, but names, hell yes!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Then if someone is concerned about it @jerv they can go look it up! What is the POINT of posting them?

Deshi_basara's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yeah…. that too XD

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III Not everybody has the research skills to even handle Google. I know that I personally suck at jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Are you saying that our freedoms are merit-based as opposed to universal rights? If so, the I would like to have people’s right to free speech restricted according to their IQ.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jerv If a person doesn’t have the mental capacity to even handle Google, I sure as hell don’t want them showing up at my door pissed because I have a critter rifle because I live in the country!!!!

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III Such is the price of a free society. I don’t like it myself, but the alternative is lack of freedom.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t know why anyone would want a gun in the first place but if you had one wouldn’t you want people to know about it? Isn’t this its deterrent value?

dxs's avatar

I think that the media in general are an invasion of privacy most of the time. Some people don’t want the attention and are forced into it by the media. People most certainly should have a right to privacy, and I see it wrong to even have a camera directed at your face against your will, let alone your address to the public.

jonsblond's avatar

@flutherother Having a gun to protect yourself from thugs isn’t the only reason why people own guns. Many people own guns for hunting or to kill wild animals that may harm them or their livestock or pets.

WestRiverrat's avatar

They had the right to publish the information. However, now they must assume the responsibility too. If a firearms owner can convince a jury that his home was robbed because of the report, the paper should be held liable.

If a gun is stolen from one of those homes and used to kill someone, the paper should be liable for any civil penalties that result from a wrongful death case.

jca's avatar

I would imagine the paper’s attorneys weighed the legalities of publishing the list beforehand.

wundayatta's avatar

Our public officials have decided the public has an interest in knowing who has a gun. If you have a problem with that, then take it up with the politicians. However, everything that is public knowledge to a public official should also be publicly available or even publicized for the general public as well. If we can not get access to information our officials have, we can not make sure they are doing a good job.

By publicizing these names and addresses, the paper is making it possible for you who are opposed to gun registration to organize and pressure officials to get rid of registration. Organize and make it happen. And good luck to you.

burntbonez's avatar

@Dutchess_III Nope. You can’t have my address. But I’m sure you wouldn’t mind giving me yours if I ask you nicely. Right?

woodcutter's avatar

The wrong kinds of people also read and they will now know either: who to rob in order to obtain a firearm and perpetuate gun violence and, who to rob in relative safety. I think both owners and non owners have a gripe. If a stolen gun is found to have been known about from this list and results in a crime, then I think the newspaper should pony up damages. I am not sure the 1st amendment absolves all from damages resulting from free speech. It just says you can’t be legally prevented from using it.

bkcunningham's avatar

I don’t understand the news worthiness of the reporting. It wasn’t an editorial or a column, it was a news article. Does the newspaper also print the names and address of sex offenders, drunk drivers, people on the police blotter…wait a minute. Those are people who have committed crimes. Gun owners haven’t committed a crime so that is a bad comparison.

Do they print the names, addresses and party of registered voters? Do they print the public information on all building permits? Do they print the names of address of people who register vehicles or pay their taxes? Or do they print the names and addresses of people who are receiving food stamps or other welfare benefits?

I think a good journalist would go out on a limb and print the names and addresses of the folks who applied and were denied handgun permits.

jerv's avatar

@bkcunningham I think a good journalist would be out of work in a heartbeat. Media lives to sell, and you can’t do that with good journalism any more. Trash and sensationalism sells, and since media is in the business to do business, you really cannot blame them for ditching good taste and discretion in favor of enhancing shareholder value.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s my point @burntbonez. No, I wouldn’t want to give you, a perfect stranger, my address. You don’t want perfect strangers having YOUR address. Yet you think it’s perfectly fine for the media to print OTHER peoples addresses for thousands of strangers to see…just because they have a gun? That’s hypocritical.
Besides, not everyone owns guns just for home protection.

bkcunningham's avatar

Agreed, @jerv. Is that a first?

burntbonez's avatar

I don’t think you understand what it means to be hypocritical, @Dutchess_III. If I wanted to have a gun and yet not have my name published while others did have their names published, then that would be hypocritical. But asking for privacy for private things is not hypocritical.

Gun ownership is a privilege that requires as license. The names of licensees are not guaranteed privacy under current law. So there should be no expectation of privacy. If gun owners want their ownership to be private, they should get a law passed to make it so, as people in other situations, such as drivers licenses, have gotten laws passed.

jerv's avatar

@bkcunningham That is rare!

woodcutter's avatar

@burntbonez Gun ownership is a right as per the US constitution. There is no privilege. Operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway is a privilege.I think that point is where many pro’s and anti’s clash.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I still don’t understand why the paper posted the names and addresses.

Response moderated
woodcutter's avatar

Apparently the paper wants to see if they can cash in on the hysteria of gun violence to fatten their bottom line at the expense of people who have done nothing illegal. The fact that these people are registered means they are complying with all the BS they have been ordered to. It’s not as if they are sexual offenders and people need to be aware of their location. Sometimes, always, a stigma is effective to broaden the “us and them” mentality.

jonsblond's avatar

Why was @bkcunningham‘s response moderated? (did you ask for it to be removed bk? I thought the post was brilliant.)

augustlan's avatar

@jonsblond We removed it because we don’t allow posting personal information like that here.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@augustlan…that’s priceless, on THIS question! ROFLLL!!!

So, the consensus is, the paper did that for monetary purposes. Some of you agree with what they did, for MORAL reasons. Still, I don’t see papers posting the names and addresses of sex offenders, which would be of much more benefit to us, I think.

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III They sell smartphone apps for that, so (cynic that I am) I think that there would be issues with those who make those apps complaining about loss of business and making enough of a legal stink (we are a litigious society) that it would not be worth the hassle.

wundayatta's avatar

@Dutchess_III You’re interested in sex offenders. I can tell you that information is useless to me. There are hundreds in my zip code. Thousands maybe. Although none right in a few block radius.

Gun locations would be much more interesting to me. It would be nice to know which of my neighbors has a gun, for a variety of reasons. But it’s much more actionable intelligence than knowing who got caught peeing outside in the park (which is all it takes to be convicted as a sex offender).

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta I think that a registry of Republicans and Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians would be better for the public safety. I am more threatened by them than by anybody who just happens to own a pistol.

augustlan's avatar

@Dutchess_III We have better ethics than the newspaper, apparently! :)

bkcunningham's avatar

That is exactly what my husband said, @augustlan.

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