Monday, January 7, 2013

Public Safety, Guns, Drinking and the Constitution

Recently The Journal News of New York, published the addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. It has of course raised a firestorm of both support and anger.
One aspect of this not being addressed, in my opinion, is that this is not news. This is an attempt to support an agenda and as such would have failed the journalistic test of reporting the news. Gun ownership is both a right and a legal activity in which millions of people participate; as such merely owning a gun is not newsworthy. The article was filed under New/Local News, not as an opinion piece. They could have stated that statistically more crimes are committed by those without high school diplomas and then using a Freedom of Information request to gather the data, published the addresses of all high school dropouts in the area. But that would not have fit their belief set so of course they would never do that.
Again in my opinion they took the cowardly route.  Had the newspaper filed it as an opinion piece it would have had to expressed its opinion on gun ownership which would have placed them in the position of stating they believe gun ownership is bad. That would have probably negatively effected their revenue. I also don't believe they expected the repercussions they have received. Which has also had a negative effect their revenue.
But, to defend their actions the newspaper argues that gun ownership makes other people less safe and so is news. If you support their actions in publishing gun owners addresses, how do you feel about them publishing the addresses of other people who participate in, Danger to Society, activities? Drinking and driving is certainly dangerous to society. So the newspaper, in the interest of public safety, could stake out the bars in town, collect the license plate numbers for all who go to a bar on Friday or Saturday night and publish the customers'  addresses, maybe call it the "Drunks Report" or "DUI Dangerous List"
The police could certainly use the info. Being on the list five times a month would give the police probable cause to track you down and do a spot sobriety check. Insurance companies could adjust rates up or down based on how often you show up in the list. Spouses could use the info to see if their significant other was really working late. Homeowner associations could add articles to their agreements about how many times you can go to a bar before you have to move out. Your workplace can use it to determine if they really should promote you. The list of positive things this could do for society could go on and on.
DUI rates would plummet, spouses would have a way to insure trust, insurance rates for those who do not drink would go down, work production would rise, and neighborhoods would be better/safer. What could be wrong with all of those?
Based on their argument of exposing your privacy is for the public good this would be a great public service. The community would become a much safer place and isn't that what the newspaper is advocating, for everyone to be willing to give up a just a little freedom, just some of your privacy for a little more  safety for everyone else?
The Journal Article is here:

1 comment:

  1. Dead on, brother! I think maybe we should pursue the high school dropout thing. We could publish all of those awful rejects of society who are so dangerous to us all. I mean, guns don't kill people, high school dropouts kill people, right?