Poll: Should Westchester Gun Owner Names Be Public?

  • Comments (78)
Should the names and addresses of gun owners be public information?
Should the names and addresses of gun owners be public information? Photo Credit: File

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - A local newspaper sparked a national debate this week when it published the names and addresses of all legal gun owners in Westchester County, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting and ensuing gun control debate. Do you think gun ownership information should be public information? Sign in to take our poll and tell us what you think.

Poll

Should the names and addresses of gun owners be public information?

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Reader Results

Should the names and addresses of gun owners be public information?

  • Yes, we should know where the guns are.

    28%
  • No, that's personal information.

    72%
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  • 78
    Comments

Comments (78)

one unusual guy: "Any idea how low the number of crimes thwarted by someone with a legal weapon is? " You don't have a clue do you? Everyday someone is saved from harm BECAUSE they have a weapon to defend themselves with. Get your head out of your posterior. Happy New Year.

What lohud.com did was place a bullseye on the home of all the gun owners! No ones name & address that owns a weapon should EVER be printed in a newspaper like that!!

I know why don't they print the names and addresses of people that don't own guns........ Oh wait a minute they don't have to because by printing the names & addresses of gun owners they made it easier for criminals to steal, nice job gannett (lohud.com)!!

Now thanks to those fools I will have to buy a gun to protect myself, oh hold on then they print my name & address too, I think an AR-15 would be best, no license needed there...

Follow me on facebook: George Sinzer
https://www.facebook.com/FIREFOXNEWS.ONLINE this way if I am killed by a crook breaking in my house it is because of the fool thing lohud.com did...

The problem with making the names of legal gun owners public is that you will also make their homes targets for thieves who would love to find weapons that they could get cheap. Would anyone who has an expensive collection of diamond jewelry, antiques, gold or art want their names and addresses public?

At the risk of being excoriated by every right-thinking soul in Westchester County, I'd like to point out a few things.

1. Under current law, the database of legally permitted handgun owners is public information. When you take out a permit, you run the risk of having your name made public *under current law.* The Journal News has the right to publish public information. If people want this information to be restricted, the law needs to be changed, *and probably should be*, particularly in the case of law enforcement and other first responders. But censorship of the press is not the way to solve the issue. If you are concerned, contact your representatives in government and lobby for a change in the law. Publishing the addresses and phone numbers of Journal News employees on Facebook in retaliation (yes, I've seen that, and one person even published *mine* too, just for disagreeing with him: I had to delete the thread) doesn't help advance the conversation.

2. Those who argue that publishing the database somehow makes permitted handgun owners, or alternatively those who do not have permits, uniquely vulnerable to criminal activity are overlooking several factors.

(a) A database of permitted handgun owners is not the equivalent of a database of owners of *all firearms*. Rifles, shotguns and other "long guns" are not registered in New York State. Someone with criminal intent who assumes a home without a listed handgun is totally undefended may be in for a well-leaded surprise.

(b) Any responsible firearms owner should have a means of securing their weapon so that it is not accessible to anyone but the owner. Safes and trigger locks are readily available and affordable to anyone who can afford a legal firearm. (We simply don't know what measures Nancy Lanza took to secure her firearms, if any. That does not obviate the need for adequate security on the part of all owners.)

(c) The scenario of a criminal reading a name in the Journal News and breaking in to steal a legally registered firearm ignores the fact that illegal firearms are easily obtainable through many other means. An easily traced, registered handgun would be a liability for a criminal rather than an asset.

I am concerned at the lack of critical reasoning displayed by a number of commenters on this issue that I have encountered on various websites and on Facebook. The willingness, even eagerness, to muzzle the press, the hysterical overreactions (a friend compared it to publishing the names of registered pedophiles. Really? Handgun owners=pedophiles?!?...) do not bode well for the safe and thoughtful resolution of the issue of the status of firearms in our communities. Please, everybody: aim before firing.

As ever, YMMV.

[An easily traced, registered handgun would be a liability for a criminal rather than an asset.] and this is why? What liability? You mean if a police officer asks him for a permit for the gun? The criminal has NO regard for the law much less if it is a registered weapon or not.

Thank you.

First off your critical reasoning is very good, but I feel that you didn't follow your arguments far enough.

1. You are right about the current law for New York, but I think the poll is aiming at future law that will include more than what is currently in the public database.

2a. I think the debate here is not just for the current registration database of handgun owners and those with Federal Firearms Licenses. The implied question for this poll seems to be that if future regulation of firearms contains provisions for the registration of all firearms, then should the database of owners be made public? Why? We don't publish a database of all car owners, even though that is public information. The fact that there is a risk for a criminal intent on burglary does not seem to always stop the burglary.

2b. Yes, safes and trigger locks are available, but are not always burglar proof. Some gun vaults are not cheap, costing upwards of $4,000 or more, which may put an undue burden on the average gun owner who has long arms for hunting or target shooting. You may still argue that this is reasonable, but many owners at present need only something to deter children and others from gaining immediate access. Why place extra burdens on these people, they have not done anything wrong.

2c. Your assumption that criminals are unlikely to pick up a copy of the Journal News to find names of gun owners is somewhat naive. They would not need the Journal News. All they would need is access to the internet. Easily traced, registered handguns that have been stolen continue to show up as recovered weapons used in crimes all over the country. We would all like to believe that all the guns that are recovered at crime scenes in NYC, are from Virginia gun shops, but that isn't always the truth. Yes, criminals do have many ways of obtaining weapons, including theft.

I agree with your concern about the lack of critical reasoning, but I am increasingly concerned that some members of the press are demonizing all gun owners. They may be qualifying their commentary, but I would be willing to bet that many readers don't read the whole article or dismiss the qualifications out of hand. My greatest fear is that the whole debate on gun control will devolve into a witch hunt. At the same time, I am also concerned that the extremists of both the gun lobby and anti-gun activists will make effective legislation impossible to draft. Yes, aim before firing, but, also, make sure of your backstop, as you still might miss the target.

By the way, what is the difference of publishing the names of registered pedophiles in a newspaper, as opposed to having those names available in a database that anyone can access through the internet?

P.S. I have to beat myself up a bit here, by offering myself as proof that one doesn't always read everything. I didn't realize that the Journal News already published this list. I don't subscribe to the paper, as I have never been impressed with the quality of it's journalism. My arguments for the future of this debate still stand. While I find it interesting to know which of my neighbors have handgun permits, I did not need to know it and it wasn't something that I or any reasonable person should be actively seeking. If what goes on in your bedroom is out of bounds for the general public, why is this list not also out of bounds? In addition, I offer the Journal News' irresponsible action as proof that this whole debate is already devolving into a witch hunt led by the worst elements of the press. I sincerely hope that some of the named individuals, who are innocent of any crime, litigate the Journal News into bankruptcy for this incredible invasion of privacy.

Thank you, tirnadhalaigh. You're right about the database of licensed drivers, and I think that should be the model for databases of firearms owners: restrict access, by law, to LEOs--including the ATF, which is apparently out of the loop. Such a provision in the law would have prevented the database from being published by the JN, or at least prompted second thoughts by its legal staff.

In addition, just as we require auto owners to carry liability insurance, we should require the same of firearms owners. We also require auto owners to keep their vehicles in good order and park them in appropriate places: we should do the same with firearms. This is not a "punishment" for auto owners; it's a requirement for responsible ownership of a potentially dangerous vehicle. Why should it be different for the owners of firearms?

My point is that the JN was within its 1st Amendment rights to publish under present law. *Should* they have done so? That's debatable. Does publishing the public database now justify people encouraging others to hound people who are NOT in that public database--including anyone who disagrees with them? Because that's what I'm seeing folks do *now*, and that scares the bejeezus out of me--that's your "witch hunt" right there.

The other issue is, of course, the privacy of information on the internet, which has raised the stakes by an order of magnitude. We're ALL vulnerable there, whether or not we've done something wrong, in a way that we weren't when ink and paper on your doorstep were all that was involved. And we're still working out what that means, and in real time.

Thank you for a thoughtful reply to my post--I do appreciate it. Beannachtaí a thabhairt duit!

Gó raibh maith agat! An bhfuil Gaeilgeoir tú? A very pleasant surprise!

I like the direction towards licensing and liability insurance, but I see problems in cost and bureaucratic abuse. Any ban will more than likely make one side of the issue feel good, but will end up being ineffective without mass confiscation. If anyone feels that eminent domain is a damnable practice, try the confiscation route. That scares me in a way that nothing else could. It would be a very slippery slope towards a police state that no one should want. Too many individuals would hide their weapons under ground like the IRA did. It would create a black market for banned weapons, house to house searches for banned weapons (stop and frisk would not work with assault rifles), and so on... Frankly, it would put us back under the sort of government that we revolted against in the first place.

JN may have had a 1st Amendment right, but they should be held responsible for any damages as well. Sort of like falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. I see a very good class action suit here. There may also be some connection to US Supreme Court precedent regarding the right to privacy. A right that is not codified within the Constitution, but is acknowledged as valid by the Supreme Court.
Something to keep an eye on.

By the way, the internet is a very sharp, double edged sword. The privacy issue is just one of many pitfalls that we as a people are encountering. On the other hand, it has allowed the chance meeting of two citizens, who just happen to know some Gaelic, to engage in (what may be) a great and important debate. What a country!

Licensed pistol holders are not the problem. Courts are too lenient with DA's and defense plea bargaining. The guy in upstate NY who killed 2 volunteer firefighters for his own gratification previously served only 18 years on a prior murder conviction. What about the illegal hand gun criminals caught daily, rarely do they do full time. Exactly what did the Journal News accomplish by publishing this again? Probably nothing but disdain and hopefully a number of cancelled subscriptions for jumping on the anti gun crusade. Makes them look as pitiful as the NRA led by that kook.

[Makes them look as pitiful as the NRA led by that kook.] And you,truth, are a psychiatrist? The NRA has fought long and hard to protect the second amendment. To call the president of the NRA a "kook' is insulting to those members.

This is an act of outrageous irresponsibility on behalf of The Journal News and Gannett! Give us one semi-good public benefit of your publishing this information. On the other hand, I can give you multiple compelling reasons why this was an irresponsible and meaningless thing to do. I am for reasonable gun control, but your action added nothing to that objective and only served to polarize the debate even further. For shame Journal News.

The list has the name and address of every law enforcement and national guard member in the county. Thank you, Journal News, for providing a hit list for every whacko with a grudge, complete with addresses. I know you are not exactly the New York Times, but show some common sense! Once published, it is out there forever, floating in cyberspace. You cannot get that genie back in the bottle.

The list has the name and address of every law enforcement and national guard member in the county. Thank you, Journal News, for providing a hit list for every whacko with a grudge, complete with addresses. I know you are not exactly the New York Times, but show some common sense! Once published, it is out there forever, floating in cyberspace. You cannot get that genie back in the bottle.

Dear Voice
Please immediately change the misleading stock photo you selected for this article. The data released concerned legally-registered handguns, not the sort of weapons displayed in your photo.

Using this photo adds to the guilt-by-association smear that was also suggested by the Journal News publishing the handgun permit data in the wake of the Newtown horror. They even made that biased link explicit with intro text and headlines.

This is ugly, unbalanced and inaccurate journalism apparently intended to make news rather than report it.

You are adding to this wrong with your photo selection.

We are particularly troubled that the published names and addresses included police officers. The argument for gun control includes assumption that only law enforcement should have guns and yet these public servants have their names and addresses published as if they are sex offenders.

PS perhaps the Chappaqua Patch will let you use the handgun photo they selected for their article and poll.

My subscription to the journal news is being canceled. Whatever happened to people having any privacy? Law abiding citizens who own guns do not need to be outed like this, what's next? No my neighbor has no more right to know what's in my home then I do in his if what I've done is legal.

Absolutely NO!!!

Be interesting though to see which of our elected officials hold permits. That might explain their silence.

Clearly only the names and home addresses of those law-abiding citizens who went through the proper channels to obtain a gun permit under the law should be listed (including police officers, soldiers, and corrections officers). Would not want to impose on the rights of those who acquired (or now have better information and plan to acquire) guns illegally by inconveniencing them in any way. Will The Journal News also be providing bus service for these criminals? Totally irresponsible and obviously motivated solely by profit. Please cancel your LoHud subscriptions.

I really doubt someone is going to break into someone's house because they were listed as having a gun permit. If anything I would think that would be a deterrent.
I've lived in Yorktown for past 40 years. Most of the time one of the sliding doors is unlocked (we have 5) and no one ever broke in (not that they would have to) BUT we have a shepard and a chihuahua that make their presence known to strangers.......I've even left COD for the UPS when we weren't home. AND we're set back from the street!

Good Luck in the future your playing Russian Roulette

It was irresponsible for the Journal News to publish names and street addresses of legal gun permit holders. Not only is your poll not relevant to the Journal News map, the photo you chose to go with it is misleading. I have cancelled my subscription to the Journal News and am considering canceling my subscription to the Daily Voice as well.

Stupidity on their part. The list includes every retired and still working Police Officer, Military person, Law abiding citizens. Not to mention they have put most of us on alert by listing addresses. Sure they told all the criminals where they maybe able to get Guns for Free, instead of purchasing off the streets. There are times I spend 3 nights alone on weekends while my husband is out of town. Since this every time I hear a car I'm jumping up, my dogs are barking. I show dogs, what if someone does try to break in and one of my dogs goes into guard mode, they will kill her or him. What if they break in and I'm alone, by the time I grab a gun and unlock it he has already attacked me. We have been extremely private, it has all been destroyed by a New Developer for the past two years and now by listing my husband and address for having a gun permit. Since this I have pulled the forms and started to fill out for my own gun permit. Go to Facebook and you will see where all of the JN idiots have been listed by addresses and Google photo, not to mention the two that own guns themselves. This list does nothing about solving the problems with illegal guns and magazines, if you all double check you will probably find that 99% of all listed have never been in any kind of legal trouble and are normal......So hope the first person to have their house hit because of this list goes after the JN like a ton of bricks with every possible law suit. Some are saying with the list they will stay away, not in this country criminals are growing, there are times I hate shopping on Central Avenue by myself, especially after someone tried to break into my car at TJMaxx.

The survey is a waist of time. First the list is only licensed hand gun owners. Second it would only account for the law abiding hand gun owners, not the criminal hand gun owners.
The press should focus on unbiased journalism. How about a poll on that?