Last month The Journal News published an interactive map of Rockland and Westchester gun permit holders. The moved sparked controversy in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which prompted a national debate over gun control.
The Hudson Valley newspaper in New York published the sensitive information legally under the Freedom of Information Act. However, critics of the move claim that just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Supporters say that the public has the right to know.
Now we’re beginning to see some potential unintended consequences of the publication. When the map was first released, I honestly expected non-permit holders to be the targets of home invasion -- after all, now criminals would know which houses were unarmed. Why try to rob someone with a gun to defend him or herself when you can go after someone unarmed?
Curiously, that’s not what’s happening. While there’s no conclusive evidence at this point, a White Plains, New York home was burglarized last weekend -- a home that showed up as one of dozens in the area with a gun permit. Public Safety Commissioner David Chong confirmed that the house contained a gun safe, and that the burglars did attempt to break into it.
The suspects took some jewelry that was laying around and tried to open up a gun safe .... Their attempts failed. No weapons were taken.
I’m not sure what the intent behind publishing where gun permit holders lived was, other than a publicity stunt, because it sure as heck doesn’t seem to be doing a darn thing about gun control. It may actually be doing to opposite.
One thing that gun rights and gun control advocates can seem to agree on is keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals. Now someone that wants a gun but is unable to obtain one legally has a list of houses to hit to try to find one. Who’s to say they wouldn’t stake out a target house, wait for everyone to leave, and break in to try to find a weapon?
Robert Riley, the head of the White Plains Police Benevolent Association, released a statement about the incident:
The burglar attempted to pry open the victims gun safe, but luckily for all of us he was unsuccessful in doing so. But what if the burglar was successful? We would now have a criminal with a gun on the street and would probably see them go from burglaries to robberies or even worse.
It’s a good question: What if the burglar was successful? Do we really need to give lawbreakers helpful information to help them break the law even more? Or should we leave responsible citizens practicing their Second Amendment right to bear arms well enough alone?
Do you think this home was particularly targeted, or just a coincidence?
Image via Davy G./Flickr