Don’t release gun ownership information? And exactly why not?

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

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About fromtheeditorchair

I am the editor of the Daily Local News.
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16 Responses to Don’t release gun ownership information? And exactly why not?

  1. Chris says:

    Even if the names of permit holders in Pa were available as public record, that would not indicate everyone who has a gun. Permit holders are only required for those wishing to concealed carry a firearm (which has a specific definition, mostly covering pistols and shorter larger weapons). The data of who has guns and what they have isn’t tracked at all and isn’t even available to those privy to it.

  2. Dean says:

    Andy, your thought process and beliefs reveal quite a naivete towards legal firearm ownership (to include firearms safety), how criminals think and behave. Perhaps you’ve heard about “the right to privacy” which is guaranteed to all U.S. citizens along with “Freedom of Speech” within our constitution. Many of us empathize with your situation of being busted in the head. However that could have been done just as well with many a blunt instrument or tool. What you experienced was a criminal doing whatever it took to get what they wanted. Publishing gun owners information and making it public won’t stop that. It will give criminals a shopping list as shown by the attempted break ins up in NY after gun permit info. was published. All parents should meet with parents of children’s’ friends where they will be staying and have the conversation of safety.Feel free to ask if all firearms are properly secured and not accessible by unauthorized persons. Of more importance would be to ask the parents if they smoke pot or do drugs and are there any accessible drugs in the household! It’s much more effective to get out and know your neighbors face to face than searching some database of who owns guns (notice I did not say weapons, there are weapons in every household). Publishing gun owner/permit holder info does nothing to increase safety in any community. Please, educate yourself on firearms, take a class like Basic Rifle, or pistol or shotgun. There are many clubs and instructors in the area would be happy to assist you. Oh, and if you are checking other media outlets (your competition) ask yourself if those journalists are publishing unbiased truthful and accurate news articles. Integrity is almost extinct in today’s media!

  3. CW says:

    If you verify my professional license, my home address is not listed, only the city in which I reside…a far cry from publishing names and addresses of permit-holders. And what exactly do you plan to do with this information once you have it? Shun me? Not allow your children to come near me? Point and whisper to your friends about your crazy, gun-toting neighbor?

    While we’re on it, what other “dangers” would you like to make the neighborhood aware of, Comrade? Maybe we should require anyone taking anti-depressants to register publicly? What if they don’t take their medication as directed or their given the wrong kind of medication and they start manifesting psychotic behavior? What about highly addictive pain killers like Oxycontin? Maybe someone will take their pain meds and get behind the wheel? How about knives, cinder blocks, belts – in the wrong hands, what isn’t a weapon?

    Trying to shame people into changing their behavior because you’re uncomfortable with it is intolerance. If your child is coming over to play, you’re welcome to ask me about weapons, medications and other things you may find objectionable. I may just indulge your intrusive questions. Outside of that, kindly stay out of my private business, Big Brother.

    And by the way, I have had a gun pointed at me…I’ve also been in car accidents. That doesn’t mean I want to shame people out of owning cars.

  4. MrT. says:

    With the pen mightier than the sword, maybe we should start regulating, licensing and printing address of all reporters and editors. Or is that your 1st amendment right to publish what you see fit? In my opinion, modern journalism has done more damage to our country by it’s lying, cheating and misinforming the public over the last 30-40 years. Keep enough us ignorant and will we always need you to tell us what we should think. Boy does that sound a lot like the infamous LBJ attributed quote.

    Just to educate you a little about professional licensing. Once you hang a shingle out as a professional you are open to more scrutiny by the public, but only in that professional regard.

    In the above write up you provide not one reason for you to have this information about law abiding citizens,other than your curiosity/fear. Don’t you get to know the our neighbors and parents of your kids friends a little? I do and do ask about things that are a concern. Do you really need to know that some guy two neighborhoods over has a carry permit?

    Other than that a brilliant article. Keep up the good work

    • Just because I get to know my neighbor doesn’t mean I will be told they own a gun. Maybe they won’t think it’s any of my business and maybe they’re right. But maybe I want to know because I won’t want my children around a home that has guns. Isn’t that my right as a parent? My address is easily available via the Web. How do I know? Because on two different dates folks who didn’t like my opinions protested in front of my house. Funny thing, they refused to identify themselves or give their home addresses. Sure seems like people love the different sets of rules. I’m not ashamed or afraid to tell anyone where I live. I will tell you if you tell me…

      • tom says:

        It is your obligation as a parent to ask the questions. But it is not your right to know who leagaly ownes a gun. Maybe history will help first you identify the guns then yoou take them away who used these tacktics? Look it up do we want to go down this dark hole. I trust my neighbors and friends and know the people my children will be staying it is my job and responsibility to know. You want everything given to you without the knowledge of the integrety of the person. Parenting is hard and mistakes are made but I do not see how having the name of gun owners does anything other then make people afraid for no reason

      • MrT. says:

        If a neighbor replies to your inquiry to anything that is a concern to you with ‘none of your business’ I would advise that they are not be be trusted and keep your kids away from them. It not your ‘right’ to know this. What document/precedence have you ever read that gives you that right to know any information about another citizen at your whim. Something they taught you in journalism school? It is your ‘responsibility’ to help your kids keep safe. If you cant trust someone to answer a question, don’t, trust them with anything. Haven’t you learned this in your own life at this point? This applies to everything not just guns.

        Most responsible gun owners will answer your questions and maybe even offer you to view how they are stored. I do and have.

        As far as people protesting out in front of your house and refusing to identify themselves. Once again you hung your shingle out as an editor, trusted by the public with your pen. They did not, only voicing their opinion on how you are doing your job. Well within their rights. They even have the right to walk up to your door, knock and ask questions as long you have asked them not too or mark your property as such.

        Take some responsibility for your own actions and stop blaming someone/thing else.

      • tom says:

        oh and I own NO NONE NADA guns

  5. I too am not afraid to be public about my real name, I have been published many times in the DLN. A firearm is a personal item and the public does not have the right to know what is in my closet, it really is that simple. I am sorry that you do not ‘buy’ the argument that criminals watch for public information about things they want to steal, but that’s just common sense.
    As for not wanting your kids in a home with guns, that is your right, and if you can’t ask the question, that is your problem, and if you don’t trust the parents to answer honestly, well, find new friends for your kids. One little straw-man right back at ya…do we have the right to know who has AIDS in our neighborhoods? Kills more people than guns…

  6. jcx2 says:

    If the purpose is to protect children who potentially may play in a home that a homeowner has a gun permit and presumably a gun, the simple and proper thing to do would be for the parent to ask them. Your solution is to inform all criminally bent persons exactly who does and does not, potentially, have a gun. You can also find out the names and addresses of people who havedogs and the breeds, do you want to publish how many homes have pit bulls and dobermans? In- home attacks by dogs occur hundreds of times a year as ompared to in- home accidental shootings. Wanting to provide names of possible gun owners, to me, is just an elitist, arrogant push to harm….not protect. In some areas of PA it takes over 20 or 30 mins. for the police to get to a home, and by that time the home owner may be dead, yet you think that is worth the publishing of their names? Are you comfortable with the amount of time 911 takes to get any information from a caller, especially one who knows a home invader is inside their home? Can a person who is faced with a home invader protect themselves and their families without a gun? Do you even care? Perhaps the CHOP doctor killed recently in Philadelphia, and whose body was d set on fire…perhaps if she had access to a gun, she might still be with us. You want to try to punish people who follow the law and aid and abet those who intend to steal and use those guns illegally….great plan! You might want to seriously examine WHY you want to publish those names. i do not think it is for information purposes. I think it is for the same reasons the Journal did it….a cowardly way to harm people who don’t have armed guards or secret service protection readily available, yet want to protect themselves and their families.

  7. Anthony J Oleck says:

    Andy….that blow to your head really seems to have affected you….but let me suggest another avenue that would be more effective in assuring it doesn’t happen again. Why don’t you use the Freedom of Information Act to find out how many priors the thug who hit you had…my bet is if it followed the normal format he probably has a record a mile long and if he was behind bars he would not have been a threat to you or anyone else. The nutcase who recently started a fire in his neighborhood then proceeded to shoot and kill firemen responding had beat his grandmother to death with a hammer (I suggest you find out how many of your neighbors have hammers to be really safe)…

    Why was a guy who beat his grandmother to death with a hammer out on the street Andy….?
    I think you’ll find that that is more of the problem and more of a threat to your kids and to all of us then a good guy neighbor with a licensed gun.

  8. matt says:

    You said that you would not let your child go to a house if you knew there was a gun there, would you let your child go to a house with a swimming pool? Stats show a child is 100 times more likely to die in a backyard swimming pool that die from a gun. Check the facts.

  9. Daylesford Dan says:

    Ahh. Gun control. Catnip for the NRA crowd more interested in their ‘freedom’ to feel powerful and manly.
    If I recall the story in New York refered to permits to carry weapons in public, I don’t believe they need a permit to own a gun in their own home.
    Sensible gun laws

    • dqdean says:

      Dan, I feel obliged to inform you that you are wrong about needing a permit to own a gun in your home in NY state and NYC. Please, seek further education on the matter from reliable sources. Media reports in this day and age do not count as reliable sources. Just go to the state attorney general website and read the laws for yourself. Please note I use no derogatory comments nor references in my statements, nor do I make personal attacks.

    • What is wrong with you? You want to treat innocent people like sex offenders then claim you are being sensible. Smh

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