Since we are talking about guns…
Looking on the sites of my competition as all us journalists do these days I came upon a story on Philly.com by the Sunlight Foundation.
The story – here’s the link: http://bit.ly/YnY0TO — is following up on the story about a New York newspaper that created all sorts of a fuss by identifying gun owners in the state. However, according to the Philly.com posting, only a handful of states – 10 it seems to be – allow access to that sort of information as in the public record.
Now the comments that followed seemed to be critical of the newspaper in New York and pretty much say that the public has no right to know just who in their neighborhood owns a gun.
I guess this is where I have an issue.
Now I will admit I am not a big gun fan – meeting the butt end of a handgun while as a grocery store cashier might do that to you – I would in no way stop my friends or relatives from owning handguns, shotguns and the like. I just personally don’t have any affection for guns.
But in looking at the Pennsylvania Department of State web site I do find it curious that we can verify the license of a funeral director, an accountant, a dentist, a massage therapist or the guy who cuts my hair but I can’t have access to the data that identifies who is packing heat?
Not that I am worried that my neighbor across the street is doing anything wrong with his or her weapons of choice. But I would like the ability to find out who owns a gun and who doesn’t. I suppose I just don’t understand why the information is so super secret. And please don’t tell me the crooks are going to search databases for locations of homes with guns so they can head on over and burglarize the place. I can’t buy that argument.
I understand that there is personal information that people hate to share like how much their job pays, what they paid for their house, their car. But I actually believe the public has a right to know who owns weapons in their neighborhood. Or perhaps just the fact that they own ANY weapon. Maybe the specific weapons information isn’t necessary but just the mere fact that someone has a weapon in their house is pretty important.
For example, if while my kids were young, I would be a little hesitant in sending my kids to a house to play if I knew there were guns in the house. It’s just my view of guns I suppose and my own paranoia after ending up with a number of stitches to the back of my head from the gun my armed assailant brought into the grocery store.
I think if you asked parents how they felt I wouldn’t be alone in that concern of guns in a home.
So there you have it. Feel free to comment away and jump on my case about my belief that gun ownership data should be a public affair. I realize this won’t be a popular position but it is mine…
– Andy Hachadorian