Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

January 13, 2013

HOPKINS: Paper was wrong to publish pistol permits

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

Making the list available online gives burglars instant knowledge of homes where there are presumably no guns. It just might be more enticing to burglarize that home with the empty HDTV box sitting with the trash at the curb if a criminal knew there were no guns inside.

For that matter, certain criminals could also use the information to target homes with guns so that they may steal the weapons, which then could be used in the commission of other crimes, or for sale on the black market, especially if a burglar hits the jackpot and finds the home of a gun collector.

What did publishing these names and addresses accomplish? Was it supposed to make people aware that there are many weapons in their neighborhood? If so, what’s the big deal? Most law-abiding and responsible gun owners don’t broadcast the fact that they own weapons.

A permit is not required to own a rifle, and rifles can fire in rapid succession. Many of the deadliest shootings in the past 15 years have been committed by people who were not brandishing pistols, but rifles or other long guns. People with pistol permits have been singled out.

Posting the names and addresses amounts to a witch hunt and discrimination. The paper’s decision to publish the list suggests all gun owners are bad, which is simply not true. Maybe it was an intimidation tactic.

The Putnam County clerk has declared he won’t release the names of pistol owners in that county. He’ll lose because settled case law does not support him. At least he’s taking an ethical stand.

The Journal-News, since it put the names and addresses of law-abiding citizens — who happen to hold pistol permits — has taken plenty of heat from the NRA, police organizations and everyday citizens. It’s all deserved. There are certain ethical standards that should not be crossed.

The Journal News not only crossed that line, they thumbed their noses at it.

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