Skip to comments.Inmates using newspaper's gun owner map to threaten guards, sheriff says (Rockland County)
Posted on 01/04/2013 4:14:10 PM PST by Libloather
Law enforcement officials from a New York region where a local paper published a map identifying gun owners say prisoners are using the information to intimidate guards.
Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco, who spoke at a news conference flanked by other county officials, said the Journal News' decision to post an online map of names and addresses of handgun owners Dec. 23 has put law enforcement officers in danger.
"They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That's not acceptable to me," Falco said, according to Newsday.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Here’s a list of some of their advertisers: http://www.wcfoany.org/?p=197
This list includes regional and local businesses as well.
To #19: I’m surprised that the prison/jail guards haven’t paid the threatening prisoners a visit and lectured them on the errors of their ways.
After the first 4-5 are taken away in an ambulance to intensive care, I think the message will have been delivered in ernst.
Then sue the newspaper, its advertisers, staff, and parent company for “reckless endangerment” in a very big class action lawsuit.
They OWN IT.
I'm also surprised. State laws differ, and this could not have happened in Missouri. Under RSMo. 571.101.9, qualifications to carry a concealed weapon, which are the only sort of records of gun ownership maintained in Missouri, are not open to the public.
I don't think it could have happened in any other state where I've worked as a reporter. It looks like New York has a damaging loophole that needs to be closed, and I hope the NRA is working hard right now to check the laws of the other states to see how many other states there are where a bomb like this could blow up.
I'm posting this at some length because I want gun rights advocates to know that at least some of us in the media understand that what this New York newspaper did was wrong, and can make a rational case from a journalistic perspective why they were wrong. Free Republic gets read in a lot of other places and I hope this gets into people's hands in the NRA and elsewhere who can do some good.
I am normally a huge advocate of public access to government information — the government does, after all, work for the taxpayers, not other way around — and I have a decades-long history of fighting for access to records that some people don't want publicized. Sometimes that led to interesting stories about efforts to sell government property for cut-rate prices to friends, bids given to people who were not the low bidder, prosecutors dropping charges for no good reason when friends are involved, or major embezzlement cases in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars which elected officials tried to cover up via quiet resignations rather than prosecutions.
There are very good reasons why most of what the government does needs to be open to public inspection.
Most, but not all.
Longstanding exceptions exist in most if not all states for legal, personnel and real estate matters. For example, everybody understands that because lawyer-client conversations are confidential, government agencies have the right to get legal advice in a lawsuit without having the other side listen in. Everybody understands that if a city employee is accused of some sort of nonsense, the city council should have the right to keep unfounded accusations from going public, with the caveat that if the person complaining thinks misconduct has been covered up, that person can always sue, which typically gets the closed personnel information out into the public court record. Similar closed records rules apply to schools with minors, to many juvenile court records, to police with pending investigations, and other longstanding legitimate exemptions. Details differ from state to state, but the principle is well-established that some things that government does can, should, or even must remain confidential.
Apart from those unusual cases, I am not used to advocating for more government secrecy, but I need to do so here.
What this newspaper did was **WAY** out of line even though what they did was apparently in compliance with state law in New York. I've been asking repeatedly on professional journalism websites what possible public purpose this article served other than stigmatizing gun owners. So far, nobody has been able to give me any rational public purpose; even some of the nearby news media are annoyed at what this newspaper did.
I've tried to keep an open mind and listen to both sides, but I think it's now become obvious that there **IS** no valid public purpose to having this information public. Many other states, perhaps most other states, do not make such lists public.
New York needs to change its law.
Until the law changes, what the New York newspaper did was legal. They will win any lawsuit against them because they printed public information that was legally available to anyone requesting it.
While it was legal, what the newspaper did was unnecessary, was foolish, has apparently already led to threats against prison guards, and could quite realistically end up getting someone robbed, injured, or killed.
This is an issue which is so egregious that I believe gun rights organizations like the NRA can make common cause with people who don't typically share our views. In a state like New York, winning means convincing Democrats to change their views, and I believe that is quite possible in this case.
One obvious example is victim advocate organizations, which tend to be dominated by liberal feminists. Because a gun is one of the most effective ways for a physically smaller woman to defend herself against unexpected attacks by a current or former boyfriend or husband, there are women who own guns to protect themselves but nobody knew that until now, and as a result of this newspaper's action, those female domestic violence victims have now lost the element of surprise. Some of them already seem to have come forward and they need to get a lot of attention because legislators on the Democratic side of the aisle **WILL** listen to victims of domestic violence.
Another obvious example is inner-city storekeepers and employees, many of whom are black or Hispanic. They may agree with us on very little politically, but getting a black or Hispanic liquor store owner on television explaining why he voted for Obama but is furious that the newspaper outed him as a gun owner could be very useful. There are lots of legal black gun owners who will vote Democrat in every election and will put pressure on their Democratic state legislators to close access to records identifying them as gun owners.
My third suggestion will be harder because people in the media typically have to steer clear of public political activism unless they're in a management role. However, are there some veteran New York crime reporters who are willing to go public, explain that they are gun owners, and say that they believe their personal safety (perhaps because of crime coverage, or specific threats against them) justified their ownership of guns for personal protection? Are there some New York reporters with a stack of newswriting awards for investigative reporting who are willing to stand up and say that there is no valid public purpose for their gun ownership being made public, and maybe add that at an earlier point in their career their lives and the lives of their families were endangered by their reporting, so they needed to have a weapon for self-defense?
News media organizations can be expected to push for all government records and government meetings to be open. I understand that. 99 percent of the time I agree. This is the 1 percent exception, and getting some veteran reporters to testify before the New York legislature could be helpful — especially if they are known and respected by some of the Democratic members of the legislature.
The NRA is a very effective organization. I assume people from the NRA national leadership monitor Free Republic regularly. I very much hope that all of what I'm suggesting has already become part of the NRA’s plans, and if not, that the NRA makes it a high priority to get female domestic violence victims and inner-city minority storeowners to advocate for closing these public records, and gets some New York reporters with a long history of fighting for public access to information who are willing to publicly state that they can find no valid reason for gun ownership records to be public.
In a state like New York, changing the law requires convincing Democrats to change their minds. I think that's doable. This situation is so egregious that some key parts of the usual Democratic coalition may be willing to act reasonably to change the law.
Let me close by saying this. I'm used to being forced to defend the right of my news media colleagues to make wrong, stupid, and even idiotic decisions. The First Amendment was designed to protect stupid and unpopular speech.
I cannot remember any other time in at least two decades that I have called for closing access to public records that are now open. Nobody has been able to give me a public purpose for this information being open to the public, with the sole exception that it might allow the public to report mentally unstable gun owners. Even if that reason were valid, it could be accomplished more effectively by implementing better systems to identify and flag people with mental health issues, and it would have done nothing to stop the Sandy Hook shooting since the shooter apparently stole his mother's guns rather than trying to buy guns himself. It has become obvious that publicizing the list of gun owners has generated actual threats, and poses a real risk to property, person, and even life.
News media organizations need to back off from defending this newspaper. The newspaper was wrong, and unfortunately, they're not backing down. Others in the news media need to stand up and declare publicly that there was no valid public purpose for publicizing the names and addresses of individual gun owners, and doing so put people at real risk for no good reason.
Sooner or later, if nothing is done, there’ll be someone dead as a result of that newspaper's action. Let's get the law changed before that happens.
Why lower yourself to their level?
Because thats the only way we will win. We are getting our butts handed to us big time. It’s not even a contest. We be nice and play by rules and they laugh at us for doing so. They don’t play by rules. And they slaughter us. They want to win by any means possible, and they are doing it. We didn’t beat Japan and Germany in WWII by being nice. We won by sinking to their level. We firebombed German and Japanese cities to kill as many men, women, and children as we could to break their populations spirit. The purpose of our nuclear deterrent is to kill as many innocent men, women, and children as possible if we are attacked with nukes.
Personally I could care less that all these Guards and Police officers names and addresses were made public, they have EVERY RIGHT To be a VICTIM just like the Citizens they are Hell Bent on DISARMING.
How many of those cops and guards are ready to take guns from law-abiding citizens if they’re ordered to...
Now they know how the rest of us feel.
Sucks, doesn’t it?
See post 47.
“..Why lower yourself to their level?...”
Mears, You can’t be serious...you’re joking, right?
But if not, I’ll tell you why -
....Because you DON’T have to be polite to people who want you disarmed, neutered, and dead.
...Because you DON’T have to be polite to people who want to strip you of your most basic Constitutional, civil, and HUMAN RIGHT and leave you at the mercy of thugs with baggy pants or thugs with badges.
...Because you DON’T have to be polite with people who by their actions openly threaten you and your family, expose your family to potential murder and assault, and expect you to roll over and do NOTHING about it.
That clear enough?
MORMON Joseph Smith would take a more direct approach...
Everyone seems to be missing the underlying problem. The govt. should not have any such list in the first place. Where in the Second Amendment does it say that you need a “permit” to own or possess arms? People would do well to remember the phrase “shall not be infringed.”
Thanks for straightening me out,guys.
Not so much “straightening you out” as it is letting you know you’re not alone, friend.
We’re ALL staring at this abyss right now...and it’s no time to “go wobbly” as the Iron Lady (Mrs. Thatcher) so elegantly put it.
“Lowering” ourselves to their level? Hell...I’m for tunneling UNDER their lowest level and caving the damn ground in under their feet, if that’s what it takes. Capisce?
One team, One Fight. They F*** with one of us, they’ll have to deal with ALL of us.
I'd rather be rude and obnoxious (I'm fairly good at that anyway) and get this stopped before my grandchildren are living in a nation in civil war.
However, let's remember as conservatives that not only the Second Amendment but also the First Amendment are in the Bill of Rights for a reason. Free Republic would be an early target of the current administration, as well as of the Clinton Administration years ago, if we didn't have the guarantees of the First Amendment.
The primary remedy for irresponsible actions like what was done by the New York newspaper is to use our free speech rights to argue against them and convince the public that they're wrong. Other steps such as economic boycotts can work as well — that newspaper has at least two local competitors which are getting lots of new readers offended by the gun owner map. Personally, I hope one or both of them decide this is a marketing opportunity, get some major pro-Second Amendment advertisers, and use the internet to start running an effective daily news alternative to their gun-bashing competitor. It would be wonderful if in two or three years the major local newspaper ends up no longer being the current Gannett paper but rather one of the two locally-owned papers, following a successful appeal to community residents angry about the abuse of a Gannett-owned paper which isn't answerable to local readers.
Finally, this is probably the first case I've seen in at least two decades where I would support amending state law to end public access to government records that are now open. Increasing government secrecy is almost never the right answer to anything — we are, after all, the bosses of the government, not the other way around — but in this case, nobody has yet been able to explain to me any valid public purpose for printing that list of gun owners.
Printing that list was a major mistake, it couldn't have happened in my state of Missouri because no comparable gun owner list exists and the concealed carry permit list is specifically closed to the public, and the newspaper is getting the public attacks that it deserves.
Using the First Amendment is the solution to this problem, not destroying a printing press as was done in Nauvoo.
Thanks very much, darrellmaurina. I had not used the link to see what the “Mormon” thing was all about.
Thank you, Onyx.
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