The strangest aspect of post-Sandy Hook hysteria is the controversy over a New York newspaper that published a map showing the names and addresses of people who own guns. The paper’s purpose was unclear; apparently it thought that the gun owners would be embarrassed, or that those who do not yet own firearms might be deterred from buying one by the fear that they too could be “outed.” In some contexts, such concerns could be well founded. Via InstaPundit, we learn that prison inmates are using the Journal News map to threaten guards and their families:
Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco, who spoke at a news conference flanked by other county officials, said the Journal News’ decision to post an online map of names and addresses of handgun owners Dec. 23 has put law enforcement officers in danger.
“They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That’s not acceptable to me,” Falco said, according to Newsday.
Of course, there are advantages to having your home identified as one occupied by a gun owner, too: it serves as a warning to burglars and other would-be criminals to go elsewhere. This is one reason why I have been happy to describe my own experiences with firearms and occasionally post photos of some of my better efforts at the range. One of my neighbors is a big game hunter whose living room is decorated with the heads of African animals. He owns firearms that make “assault rifles” look like toys. Personally, I would consider it a good thing if the criminal element believed that my whole neighborhood is heavily armed.
But here’s the thing: can you imagine another context in which anyone would think it appropriate to publish a map showing the names and addresses of residents, along with any information about them? Suppose a newspaper published a map that identified all the homes where no adult male lives, so that thieves and rapists would know just where to go. Or a map showing how many television sets belong to each homeowner. Or how about automobiles? The Department of Motor Vehicles collects information about the automobiles that belong to each household. Can you imagine the outcry if a newspaper obtained that information from the DMV and published an online map identifying by name and address the occupants of each house, and describing by make and model all of their motor vehicles? That, too, could be of great value to thieves, but beyond that, is there anyone who wouldn’t consider such an act an outrageous invasion of privacy?
And yet somehow, the liberals who publish the Journal News thought it was perfectly acceptable to publish a map identifying local gun owners, with names and addresses. The fact that anyone tries to defend this action illustrates how the mere thought of a firearm sends some people around the bend.
Meanwhile, every day brings new reminders that, no matter what newspaper editorial boards may believe, you are better off if your family is one of the ones protected by firearms. From Loganville, Georgia:
A woman hiding in her attic with children shot an intruder multiple times before fleeing to safety Friday.
The incident happened at a home on Henderson Ridge Lane in Loganville around 1 p.m.
It’s interesting: I always think of break-ins as occurring in the middle of the night, but it is amazing how many take place in the middle of the day.
The woman was working in an upstairs office when she spotted a strange man outside a window, according to Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman. He said she took her 9-year-old twins to a crawlspace before the man broke in using a crowbar.
But the man eventually found the family.
“The perpetrator opens that door. Of course, at that time he’s staring at her, her two children and a .38 revolver,” Chapman told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.
The woman then shot him five times, but he survived, Chapman said. He said the woman ran out of bullets but threatened to shoot the intruder if he moved.
If she had been using a semiautomatic pistol with a decent sized magazine, she wouldn’t have run out of bullets. But the story ended happily anyway. The key always is, not just to possess a gun, but to know how to use it.
UPDATE: Former burglars confirm that the Journal News did criminals a great service:
“That was the most asinine article I’ve ever seen,” said Walter T. Shaw, 65, a former burglar and jewel thief who the FBI blames for more than 3,000 break-ins that netted some $70 million in the 1960s and 1970s. “Having a list of who has a gun is like gold – why rob that house when you can hit the one next door, where there are no guns? …
“They just created an opportunity for some crimes to be committed and I think it’s exceptionally stupid,” said Bob Portenier, 65, a former burglar and armed house robber turned crime prevention consultant.
Professional burglars are always looking for an edge, and like most folks, they read the paper, said Portenier. …
While some burglars may use the newspaper’s information to avoid guns, Portenier said others will target homes with guns. The newspaper’s decision could even lead to legally-owned guns proliferating on the street, he said.
“That’s one of the first things we’d check out—guns are on the top of the list of what you want to steal,” he said. “They can walk out with a shotgun and a couple of handguns and sell them on the street for $300 or $400 a pop. They can sell them to a gangbanger who ends up killing someone.”
Frank Abagnale, who was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 film “Catch Me if You Can,” and is perhaps the most famous reformed thief to ever earn a legitimate living by offering the public insight into the criminal mind, called the newspaper’s actions “reprehensible.”
“It is unbelievable that a newspaper or so called journalist would publish the names and addresses of legal gun owners, including federal agents, law enforcement officers and the like,” said Abagnale, who noted that he grew up in the suburban New York area served by the Journal-News. “This would be equivalent to publishing the names of individuals who keep substantial sums of money, jewelry and valuables in their home.”
And from St. Paul comes another heartwarming story of self-defense, which reminds us that pink is only a color. Actually, these women sound formidable enough that they may have been able to dispatch the intruder even without a firearm:
A man whose burglary of a St. Paul home was foiled by two women and a pink-handled handgun was sentenced Friday, Jan. 4, to nearly 11 years in prison.
Described by his own attorney as a “career criminal,” Marty Mark Childs has at least nine prior felony convictions, including residential burglary, theft and attempted escape. …
[Rebecca Larson, 56] went in the house to get something and saw Childs in the kitchen standing next to her open purse. “What the hell are you doing in my home?” she said, according to the criminal complaint against Childs.
He held a wad of crumpled cash toward her, saying, “Here’s your money back. The cops sent me.” He tried to leave, pushing Larson’s chest to get away, but she pushed him back and locked the door.
Hickman picked up her Taurus 9 mm handgun, which had pink grips, and came into the kitchen. She saw her mother struggling with Childs. Larson forced him to the floor “where he remained at gunpoint until police arrived and arrested him,” the complaint said.
Childs told police that one of the women put her foot behind his neck and kneeled on his back when he was on the floor — pinning him down. …
The victims, who sat in court wearing pink tops, said through a statement read by a prosecutor that the incident robbed them of their sense of safety in their home.
As I say, a heartwarming story for the holiday season. And note that, as in the vast majority of cases, it wasn’t necessary to fire the gun for it to be an effective tool of self-defense.