If the government can share your gun permit data with the public, why not your tax and income data too?

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In the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut last month a newspaper serving the New York City suburbs, The Journal News, decided to post to its website the names and addresses of all of the legal gun owners in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties. Gun owners were outraged. In response a blogger posted the names and addresses of the key players at the newspaper’s editorial staff. The Journal, a unit of USA Today publisher Gannett, accessed the names and addresses via a Freedom Of Information request which makes most government data available to the public.

This is a blatant misuse of government data and the government is complicit in that misuse. The state of New York requires that all handguns be registered. That means that in order to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, a law abiding citizen must request permission from the state of New York, something they don’t have to do with the freedom of religion, speech or anything else in the Constitution. (This doesn’t apply to owning a rifle, only handguns.) Bad enough that citizens must ask, but what’s worse, New York is a “May issue” state, which means that the state has the right to say “No, you are not allowed to exercise your 2nd Amendment right”. A denial can only be overturned in court if the denial is shown to be arbitrary and capricious. And don’t forget, in the case of New York City, the people making that decision are part of the same government that thinks it’s reasonable to ban large sodas.

If perchance the government deigns to allow you to own a gun in New York, and if you then want to carry that gun outside your home, you’ll now have to request permission for that separately – and that does apply to long guns as well. The state or local authorities then get to decide if you have a good reason to carry one. It doesn’t matter if you believe you need it for self defense, what matters is whether or not you can convince them that you need it for self defense.

So now that the government of New York has forced its citizens to beg for permission in order to exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms, it then keeps all their names and addresses in a database that it then shares with just about anyone who asks.

Of course this is a bonanza for criminals. Now they know where they can go to steal guns. Or they can know in advance which homes will require extra firepower or more men because the owner may be armed. What’s more, criminals are now able to use the database to harass and threaten police and prison guards and their families. At the same time victims who have fled domestic abuse and who have successfully navigated the gun licensing maze now have their names and addresses published for their tormenters to find.

This is a clear example of an abuse of government power. If a citizen is law abiding, and has gone through all of the hoops that government has established in order to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, (as unconstitutional as they may be) does the government then has the right to provide that citizen’s information to the public? That is a circular argument: The government imposes severe restrictions and registration requirements in order for a citizen to exercise their rights, then because they have collected that data they say their hands are tied and they must provide it to the public.

Well, if that’s the case, then shouldn’t income and tax information be made public? The government forces people to pay taxes and keeps tax information on every person. Shouldn’t the government make that data available to anyone who asks? Of course not. That would be ludicrous. The question is however, what makes tax and income data any more privileged than the notion that someone feels a need to protect their home and family? Losing your personal information is no doubt a bad thing, but worse is losing your life because some newspaper gave a criminal the heads about what to expect when they broke into your house. Just as there is no compelling reason for the government to open up its tax database to the public, there is no compelling reason for the government to open up its gun permit database to the public.

It’s situations like this that make gun owners weary of registering their weapons in the first place. Government collects massive amounts of data on its citizens, from driver’s licenses to arrest records to the medicines you take, the government at all levels has a plethora of information on every citizen. Because the government has that data – often coercing citizens to provide it – does that automatically mean that that information is available to the public? Obviously not. Freedom Of Information Act and government sunshine laws provide an important tool for citizens who seek to monitor government activity. Those laws should not be used to invade the privacy of law abiding citizens, whether it has to do with taxes, gun ownership or any other law abiding activity. As despicable as the Journal’s actions were, they were enabled by a government that misunderstands its responsibilities as they relate to protecting the information it collects on the citizens. Which simply demonstrates that the more power government accumulates the more opportunities it will have to negatively impact the lives of its citizens. Or put another way, small government = big freedom while big government = small freedom.

The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.

41 Responses to “If the government can share your gun permit data with the public, why not your tax and income data too?”

  1. 26

    ilovebeeswarzone

    MARK
    I was wondering how come they could get away with that,
    just because as they said it was a public document,
    thank you for getting that law in,
    yes they should be sue for all they have for what they did of wrong to good people,
    and I hope they are sue, that will set example to other
    who where ask if they would do it in their newspaper,
    they could not refuse to do it, and other said they would do it,
    how can you now buy their paper after that?

  2. 27

    Jaime Cancio

    Specifically the Second Amendment states ‘the right to bare arms’ and it makes nor implies any specific tool that one might choose. Therefore there is no distinction in the citizen’s right to select any tool of choice. The First Amendment states we have a right to ‘privacy’ and therefor don’t have to provide any government in power in the United States information we would consider private.

  3. 31

    grumpy3625

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): Hey Liberal1 – something happened to you along the way. A child can answer your question about liberty easier and more accurately than you. It is people like you who open that door wide enough to allow the disease to slip through and infect us. The Constitution enumerates the powers in Article 1 that is given to the government by the people (that means us), so it means that the powers of the government are defined and limited. The Constitution also states in the 9th and 10th amendments that our (the peoples) rights are not enumerated; that they can’t be enumerated because they cannot be logically defined or enumerated. Any child inherently knows the truth of that in their heart. That is a gift directly from God to us from the moment of our birth. A child is closer to that truth because they are closer to God being that they are newly made from God. It’s a shame that we lose our touch and connection to God the older we get. We let screwy and wingnut notions get into our heads and then we elect wingnuts to serve us. Get in touch with yourself and you’ll get in touch with God and then you will know how to treat yourself and others with respect and not have to ask silly questions.

  4. 32

    Jaime Cancio

    There are some some constraints I have to consider in the comments I will make. One I will keep priviledged the names of the companies I was involved as a person of executive management and security for those companies. In most companies there are three personnel files kept on all employees and two of those are viewable by the employee and the remainder is a security folder no emolyee will ever see. It is safe to say, that one file holds all your pertinent information when you were hired. The second file, usually held off site, and in central company location, are the data complied found in the first folder to include information to be used against an employee during the termination process, all your past sins [company write ups] as an employee and observation about you as an employee this to include any termination. The third file is all the priviledge information a company can find out about you…these files can be extensive and most people would be very surprised what a company can find out about you from doctors, police and government records and information from employee tracking companies and the military. And this has been going on since the late eighties that I am aware. You would very worried how much information can be found out about you when someone wants to look. This recent example an executive manager and and his girl friend technical assistant while using company transportation that has embedded GPS tracking sofeware with time stamp and location recording, clearly indicated at a time both these two employees were supposed to be working their company automobiles indicated they were at a restaurant bar having meals and drinking [company credit card information] and later both drove to a almost out of town motel their autombiles there approximately three full hours. The concerns of the company, first these two were stealing of company time and pay when they were supposed to be working, second they where using company vehicles while intoxicated was an immediate insurance problem. Third, both employees involved in this situation had signed a company morals code of conduct that on several grounds the company was put into a very problematic situation. I could go on and on; but you I think better understand from the viewpoint of a company trying to protect its own interest.

  5. 33

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Jaime Cancio
    yes, YOU and this post brought about some of the best important know how
    regarding the way to deal with the gun owners problems today being targeted over mentally sicken people
    killing children with no other motive than their collapse brain,
    which the two are as far apart as the effort to accuse the law abiding gun owners responsible and the best
    citizens to be protecting this NATION from the other sick brain, who took access to gun by violence
    which is also criminal adding to sick brain,
    I don’t blame COMPAMY TO WANT TO HAVE ALL THE CHANCES ON THEIR SIDES
    when deciding on hiring their employees,
    this here give me the GREAT opportunity to ask those COMPANIES TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND IF A
    PERSON SEEK A POSITION HAVING THE RIGHT SKILL TO BE AN EXCELLENT ASSET TO THAT COMPANY, WHICH AFTER THE SEARCH IS FOUND A FELONY OF SOME MANY YEARS PREVIOUS,
    AND FOUND TO HAVE PAID THE PRICE IN YEARS AND FOUND TO NOT BE A DANGER TO SOCIETY,
    AND FOUND TO HAVE A WILLINGNESS TO GIVE HIS BEST TO THAT POSITION, HE HAS BEEN SEEKING FOR THE FEW YEARS OF HOPING AND SEARCHING, AND BEING NOT HIRED BECAUSE OF HIS PAST ONLY,
    INSTEAD OF HIS PRESENT LIFE AND GOOD WILL AND SKILL HIGHLY IN DEMAND,
    I ask the COMPANIES TO BE LOOKING AT THIS HUMAN PROBLEM , VERY SERIOUSLY IN THEIR FUTURE HIRING POLICIES TO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE MULTI THOUSANDS TRUE AMERICANS IN THAT DESPERATE SITUATION SEEKING ON AND ON POSITIONS MEETING THE COMPANY DEMANDS, AND COURAGELY NOT GIVING UP ON HOPE,
    I REPEAT ,ASKING THE COMPANIES TO LOOK UPON THOSE AMERICANS, AND HIRE THEM,
    WHICH WOULD BECOME A MOST LIKELY LOYAL EMPLOYEE, GIVING HIS ALL AND BECOME
    AN ASSET TO THE COMPANY INSTEAD OF A DANGER OF WASTING THEIR TIMES
    LIKE THOSE TWO YOU HAVE MENTIONED
    IT IS TIME TO RETHINK THE HIRING POLICIES OF THE COMPANIES WHO SEEK TO MAKE A SUCCESS,
    BY HIRING THE BEST AT IT, REGARDLESS OF THE PAST SIN.
    as you noted about two employees who had a clean hiring sheet, and failed miserably to do the COMPANY DUTY REQUIRED,
    HERE ARE THE PROOF OF THE BENEFICE ADDED BY HIRING THE OTHERS WHO HAD SUFFER AND LEARNED WHILE PAYING THEIR PRICE FOR HAVING FALL,

  6. 34

    MI Patriot

    @Johngault..There are sites on the Internet that do provide that information. Sites such as Spokeo, Ppl, Peeplo, Intellius etc provide the information you mention. Unfortunately, you have to pay for it. Perhaps it would behoove all of us who know somebody who does skip tracing for a collection agency or a private detective how to go about getting this information cheap or free. All govn’t, at lease as far I know, are all a matter of public record. ie titles, marriage licenses, criminal background checks, when you voted, etc. And with Googlemaps, you can easily put a driving map with the addresses of the people.

  7. 35

    Texas Tanker

    Perhaps ALL things paid for with/by public funds, issued by a government entity, and other things such military records should be available in a similar fashion. Then things such as passports, college loan applicatons, college transcripts, college papers such as a thesis or dissertation, and tax returns – with SSAN’s redacted of course – would all be immediately available to the public. No special privileges for these type of records.

    If they can report the name, address, and telephone number of someone who owns a pistol, then we should be able to see and publish John Kerry’s military Officer Records Brief and 201 File. Also, it would put to rest a lot of speculation if we could publish certain college transcripts and records of one Barak Hussein Obama. Sounds fair to me.

  8. 37

    alanstorm

    @Liberal1 (Subjectivity):

    How do you measure the size of government?

    Spending to GDP is a good measure. Ours is too big. You are trying to employ the “heap” property, i.e. what constitutes a heap of sand? There’s an obvious difference between a sand grain and a sand dune, but when does a a group of sand grains become a “heap”? Nice try at obfuscation.

    Which modern-day president has succeeded in that goal?

    Absolutely immaterial. You must be a liberal.

    Who’s to determine the quantity of freedom one has?

    We are; relates to the first question. since you’re a liberal, the only freedoms you are likely interested in relate to who you can have sex with and whether you can get an abortion.

  9. 39

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Ditto
    those newspaper are the dangerous one, they should be taken
    of the right to publish anything, they are not worthy of having readers, because the will screw the people so to make money selling it,
    they should be charge with all the might of the law which spell out the protection of the people,
    against those monger rats

  10. 40

    ilovebeeswarzone

    MI Patriot
    if the COMPANIES use GOOGLE to find the background of FELONS
    from years ago as a teen made a fault and paid for it and stayed cool all this time,
    those young AMERICANS made to suffer for being refuse because of the LABEL always there,
    of course the right thing would be to have the same search from OBAMA of his drug use and trips
    to COUNTRIES not allowed by this GOVERNMENT in time of another PRESIDENT.
    he went anyway arrogantly disobeying the law of this AMERICA, sure the search would surprise his
    crowd of believers that he is a MESSIAH, pure as JESUS,
    sure they would be out for a hell of a surprise,
    it will come after he leave, but it should have come before he got the position and used it to destroy the best of AMERICA’s standing in the WORLD, and the best of AMERICA CHRISTIANITY, which is now barred from public schools replace by the ARAB LEAGUE teachers and atheist empty doctrine teachers
    or other dangerous propaganda, bringing more corrupt minds to take away the rights of THE PEOPLE one at the time
    we never saw in the HISTORY
    of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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