If you’re one of that group, know that the war just got very personal.
The Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., filed a Freedom of Information request with the Westchester and Rockland county governments for a list providing names and addresses of all pistol permit holders.
It then converted that information into an interactive map that indicates each permittee’s home with a red dot. Clicking the dot opens the permit-holders name and street address. It published the information on its website the day before Christmas.
With a perfectly straight face, the newspaper asserted it had done nothing but provide public information that any citizen could access, and that gun owners had no cause of complaint. That’s believable, I guess, if you assume burglars are prone to trot down to the courthouse and file FOIA paperwork.
There can be no doubt what this little exercise was about: an attempt to “out” gun owners in a hotbed of very, very rich Democrats. It is not an accident that former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton selected Chappaqua in Westchester Co. as a post-White House address.
The Journal News greatly regretted that only pistols were covered, since long guns are not required to be registered. It also plans to expand its scarlet-letter map to neighboring Putnam Co.
This sort of exercise is certainly not unprecedented. An Illinois paper wanted to release the names of every Firearms Owner Identification Card holder in the state, and was stopped only by quick legislative action.
When Virginia instituted concealed carry, the Fairfax County paper printed the names of every permit-holder in the county, including several NRA executives.
Gun owners fought back hard against the Journal News, posting online the addresses of sundry reporters and management types at the paper and its corporate parent, Gannett. Those individuals richly deserved all the abuse to which they undoubtedly were put.
The next step is obviously heavy pressure on the paper’s advertiser base, a pressure it hardly can afford, given current newspaper economics.
Regardless of what you think about guns, using a newspaper to carry out a personal attack on private citizens is intolerable. Providing a menu for every burglar in three states is equally intolerable. No advertiser should want to support a news organization that engages in this sort of tactics against any group of private citizens.
If you’re one of those gun owners who thinks that maybe a registration system wouldn’t be so bad, this incident should help you think again. Getting a pistol permit in Westchester County is a maddeningly long and arduous process requiring personal references and endless paperwork. It’s probably easier to own a machine gun in most states than a pistol in its tony towns.
The reward those permit-holders got for making all that effort was an electronic bullseye on their backs.
The Journal News and its ilk have declared total war on every individual gun owner. Don’t think papers all over the country aren’t thinking of adopting its tactics. We have to wage total war back. We have to do it legally and ethically. But inside those bounds, we must use every tactic at our disposal.
If we don’t fight back, hard and effectively, every one of us will be no more than a red dot on some map.