We asked Patch readers this week, in response to a New York paper's decision to publish names and addresses of gun owners, if they thought media should publish such lists. As of Friday afternoon, the majority of Patch readers said no.
While gun owner license information is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act in Illinois, similar information is publicly available in other states such as New York, where the Journal News created a map listing names and addresses of handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties.
Our article, Should Maps of Local Gun Owners Be Public? generated more than 100 comments. Close to 80 percent of users voted no when asked if the media should be publishing these sorts of maps.
Patch user Holly Walters wrote, “I don't understand how having access to such a map would be useful. Once we have the information, what would we do with it?”
Map Could Endager Homeowners
Many readers commented that by publishing such a map it would make it easier for criminals to target homes without firearms.
Patch user Harry Gio wrote, “Having a map to show who has a gun will endanger the homeowners that do NOT have a gun; especially the elderly and the disabled... Duh! Why create the "Perfect" scenario for Burglars and Home Invaders to operate more efficiently? This will allow for MORE crime to come into our neighborhoods!!!”
“Criminals would AVOID houses where they knew the owners were armed, and instead target the unarmed homes,” wrote Patch user Carl Castrogiovanni.
Neal Weingarden posted on Facebook, “All this will do is tell the criminals where the guns are while the law respecting owners are at work. Posting the addresses will only make it easier to put guns in the hands of the wrong people."
Patch user Willie Wilmette echoed that sentiment, writing, “Any value of disclosing addresses of gun owners would be outweighed by the harm it would do. How would people feel if the 1st amendment was treated this way and all subscribers of all publications were publicly listed or if everyone could see who sent you mail?”
On Facebook, Steve Cornelius wrote, “A study by MIT in 2010 showed that publishing the names and locations of registered gun owners resulted in lower crime rates in areas with higher gun ownership (duh!) and higher crime rates in areas with lower gun ownership: http://is.gd/WKhmej.”
Information Could Provide Protection
Some readers, however, felt gun ownership information should be made public.
“A citizen has the right to know if his/her next door neighbor is lethally armed. I would not let my child go into a house where guns were present,” wrote Patch user John Kerr. “Don't I have the right to protect my child? Don't I have a right to know if there is a legal gun in a house next to me that also is the home of a convicted felon? I believe I do.”
Kevin Countois wrote on Facebook, “They list home values and real estate deals. Why not gun ownership?”