The gun owner next door

Is it in your best interest to know which of your neighbors has a gun in the house? Does it violate the privacy of gun owners?

New York’s Journal News has posted an interactive map showing the location of all gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties, north of New York City.

My information “should be absolutely private,” said Triglianos, who is licensed to carry firearms and owns an AR-15 rifle, the same model of gun used in the Newtown massacre. “Why do my neighbors need to know that? I am not a threat to my neighbors. I don’t pose a physical threat to anyone.”

He’s got some support in surprising place, according to an accompanying article.

The comments section of the paper is worth reading. “I’d rather have a gun owner as my neighbor then a journalist, one is far more responsible then the other,” says one commenter.

“It’s not necessary for people to know who has what,” said Daniel Friedman, a Ramapo councilman and author of the book, “Saving Our Children: An In-Depth Look at Gun Violence in Our Nation and Our Schools.” “I think we need to balance people’s right to privacy with people’s right to safety and people’s right to legitimately own guns.”

The newspaper didn’t do anything illegal in creating the map. All of the data was available using a Freedom of Information request.

But NPR says the move has generated significant pushback against the paper.

And the journalism site, Poynter, says some gun owners and bloggers responded by posting names, home addresses and phone numbers of the paper’s publishers and the reporter who wrote the story.

Poynter’s Al Tompkins seemed perplexed over why a paper would do such a thing.

“I hope any journalist who does this is willing to be accessible and responsive. If it is unfettered openness you want, you jolly well better set the example,” he said.

The reporter of the story owns a .357.

  • My sister’s pediatrician (in suburban Chicago) told her she always asks parents before a play date with her kids: “Do you have a gun in the house?” I never considered it, before. The follow-up is, “Is it locked? Loaded?”

    I’m adding it to my battery of questions to ask before I let my kids play somewhere.

    As for public information: just because information is public doesn’t mean there’s a compelling reason for journalists to publish. Public info and publishable info are two different things. Showing gun ownership in zip codes or subdivisions or something more general would have been sufficient, I’d think.

  • MikeB

    Should not have published the names or addresses, perhaps the raw numbers by zip code or something like that.

    And based on what we have seen in the past couple of weeks, it will likely lead to more gun purchases.

  • Bob Collins

    We did the same thing, Jason, with a playmate of my youngest son way back when. We found out that, yes, there were guns — or A gun, I forget which — in the house and, yes, they were locked up.

  • Chuck

    Bob, do you remember if you allowed your son to play at the house that had a gun in it? I’m sure if it was locked up, it was completely safe. But thinking back to when my own kids were toddlers, I know I would still have been a little reluctant to let them play at that friend’s house.

  • Bob Collins

    Yes, he was allowed to play there. But he got a very serious lecture — lectures — on what to do if the other kid went within 10 feet of where it was locked up.

  • Emmitt Mosley

    Gun owner and permit holders are law biding citizens .I and most all law biding citizen have went threw a legal back ground check with the state police department before recieving there gun or guns .We are not criminal because we own a gun.And also it is a 2nd amendment right .I’am also acollector with a licence and so are a lot of other law biding citizen in thi country .By making this information public you people are really opening up the doors for criminals..I believe I have a right to my privacy ,and so do other gun owners.We are not criminal because we choose to own a gun. Who ever would like to public this information I believe that they have to be one of the biggest idiot that I have ever heard or could probably ever meet .Use people nerd to worry about sex offender .And other criminal .And not what law bidding citizens have in there home for sporting and self deence.One day one of you idiots maybe happy to see one of us because we may be the person that could save your life or one of your love ones.This is a free country .With the right to privacy .

  • scott bunney

    All of my neighbors own guns. My kids would go hunting and shooting with each other. They are all fine.

  • BrandonB

    This is complete BS! So lets tell everyone who has a gun in the home so that criminals can target the homes of people who do not have weapons to defend themselves. That or which home to break into to get firearms. Wow guys good thinking!

  • scott bunney

    Look, take your kids hunting, or to a gravel pit and have fun. If you do not want to that, enroll them in a hunter safety course. You would not let your kids have glass of pop next to your computer, because you tell them what could happen. Put the video game down, go to a gravel pit, go shooting, it’s fun.

    I bet you that the folks that go off and do these things have never had a hunting license, or had a family that hunted or went shooting

  • Aaron

    I don’t see how publishing gun ownership will add value or safety to society. I grew up in a house with guns in the cabinet because my dad was a hunter. I didn’t have access to the key, but nor was it an issue when I went to stay at a friends house. I was taught to respect guns and treat them properly. We publish sex offenders personal information to the public, why not classify mental health issues into different levels and then make that information known to the public.

  • Rick McCoy

    This is no different then when news organizations publish the salaries of all employees of the state. There is at least one place where you can look up by name and year what someone who works for the state of Minnesota made in a given year. Does it cross a line? Probably. Is it relevant? Absolutely. When you have someone who lives next door to you and owns a gun, while that person may pose no threat to you, what if their house is broken into and someone steals said gun? Then what if they go next door to rob the next house and happen to use the new gun that they found?

    Is it likely, no, but possible yes. Is there any reason that I shouldn’t know what potential dangers await my family?

  • scott bunney

    Come on now really. Then we all need to know who has/had mental health treatment. Who had a divorce because of adultry as they my hit on my spouse. Who uses certain meds. We need to know who got fired from their job and why. We need to know everything because that will make us feel safe. When it maybe that we are just as much a part of the problem as the neighbor we never got to know.