I honestly never thought I would say such a thing, but it seems that the Illinois state legislature is on the right path toward fulfilling its obligation of protecting individual rights, at least in this case concerning the fundamental right to privacy.
On its surface this may seem solely like a gun control issue but the truth is that it is a much deeper one that transcends the specific subject matter which happens to frame the discussion (as is so often the case where gun politics are concerned). I, for one, commend the state police for acting in accordance with principle and ethics, even in the face of intra-government contention, rather than simply surrendering basic concepts of good governance for the sake of political gimmickry and activism.
It is exactly this sort of irresponsible behavior on the part of Attorney General Madigan that sometimes causes general distrust in the oligarchy’s administration of government and highlights why we must empower ourselves with information and knowledge to properly oversee that public trust. The citizens in question have faithfully followed the law, even if they happened to disagree with its purpose or need, and were potentially going to have their natural rights to privacy egregiously violated as a result of a subjective and inappropriate determination of “public interest.”
Not only does revealing registered firearms holders’ personal information not pass the common sense test from a cause-effect perspective, AG Madigan’s rationale to do so was flawed from the outset with regard to government’s legitimate role. Publishing such a list potentially endangers the public by identifying those who do not possess an immediately effective means of self-defense and would practicably advertise a public “shopping list” of private residences which presumably would house said firearms – both of which present a virtual Craig’s List opportunity for the savvy and not-so-random criminal. It seems that if there were any outcome that legitimately served the public interest, this would not be it.
Additionally, and regardless of the aforementioned points, the Freedom of Information Act applies to government information only – not to private information even if it may happen to be in the hands of government for administrative and maintenance purposes. Certainly American soldiers’ private medical records are not subject to FOIA scrutiny even though that specific data is in the administrative care of the government, for example. Further, the statement that “the public interest outweighs any privacy concerns” is flat-out incorrect and downright offensive to this proponent of the Natural Law. No public interest can legitimately outweigh a given individual right that does not infringe upon another’s, regardless of what one individual in government may think otherwise. To justifiably eliminate one’s rights, due process must be employed pursuant to the Constitution which the state of Illinois voluntarily ratified and in effect agreed to adhere to. Of course, while restricting or eliminating a criminal’s rights to possess a firearm, certain privacy rights, and other liberties is a legitimate public interest pursuit, it must nonetheless be sought subsequent to conviction and the strict scrutiny guaranteed by the constitutional definition of due process. Preemptive elimination of individual rights by government cannot ever be justified by the disingenuous and often times nefarious invocation of the public interest.
I commend the Illinois House in its effort to course-correct this overreach and hope for its residents’ sake that the Senate and governor follow suit.