Last month a New York newspaper, the Journal-News, published an online list detailing the names and addresses of local gun owners in what can only be realistically described as a blatant anti-gun agenda. To say nothing of the fact that this act, whether legally carried out or not, is an entirely unethical breach of basic privacy it also underscores at least one example for why some proponents of the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, myself included, reject lobbying efforts for firearms registration with the State. Clearly such information cannot be entrusted to be secured with or by the government.
But these concerns aside, it seems that the targeted intent of the newspaper may have potentially backfired. According to some – former criminals in this case – those potentially harmed the most by publishing such a list are not the gun owners themselves necessarily but rather the households that do not possess a firearm. According to a former jewel thief, whom the Federal Bureau of Investigation says committed crimes 40 years ago that resulted in upwards of $70 million in cumulative stolen property (yes, you read that correctly), “having a list of who has guns is like gold – why rob that house when you can hit the one next door, where there are no guns?” Why, indeed.
Another former burglar pointed out, “criminals are always looking for opportunity and words [sic] travels through the grapevine – burglars trade secrets and when you see something like that in the paper, that’s is [sic] something burglar’s [sic] are going to talk about.”
Even Frank Abagnale, the real-life criminal persona whom Leonardo DiCaprio famously portrayed on screen in 2002’s Catch Me If You Can, has weighed in on this incident:
It is unbelievable that a newspaper or so called journalist would publish the names and addresses of legal gun owners, including federal agents, law enforcement officers and the like. This would be equivalent to publishing the names of individuals who keep substantial sums of money, jewelry and valuables in their home.
For my part, I tend to agree with author David Gerrold: “I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.”
On a related note, at least one recent burglar did not benefit from a published list of gun owners and this story is not likely to be found across many mainstream media outlets. A Georgia mother, at home with her two young children, successfully defended herself, her kids, and her home from an ex-convict home invader Friday. She unfortunately had to shoot him five times in the process to do so before fleeing the home to a neighbor’s house. Sadly, this whole incident could have been avoided altogether if we would just ban home invasions and/or crowbars.