(NaturalNews) The United States has become an over-lawyered, litigious society, to be sure, but sometimes violations of the Constitution and the law are so punitive and blatant that you can't wait for the suit to be filed.
That appears to be the "case," if you'll pardon the pun, over the outrageous publication of the names of handgun-permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York State by local newspaper, whose anti-Second Amendment editors also included an interactive map showing what kind of guns the permit holders bought and where they and their families live.
Understandably the paper, The Journal News, which obtained permit-holder information through a Freedom of Information Act request, immediately began figuratively drawing fire from readers and other citizens concerned about the blatant violation of a permit holder's Fourth Amendment right to privacy (at press time it is unclear if state law allows publication of the names of permit holders, but it is unimaginable the law would allow publication of the addresses of those holders). So much for the right to be "secure" in your "papers and effects."
Criminalizing the law-abiding while endangering the innocent
The map and accompanying short story were published under the headline: "The Gun-Owner Next Door: What you don't know about the weapons in your neighborhood." In trying to justify this horrendously stupid decision, the paper's editors explained that their decision to publish the information stemmed from the recent massacre of 20 Kindergarten children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in nearby Newtown, Conn., in mid-December, and - supposedly - the concern expressed by some area residents about which of their neighbors might have guns (as if it is any of their business).
Readers let their wrath be known (hopefully they and a number of the paper's advertisers will next voice their opinion with their wallets and punish the paper financially). Many pointed out the obvious - that the paper's editors, regardless of FOIA laws, most likely violated the constitutional protections of these gun-owning permit holders who a) abided by the law and legally obtained their permits; b) never gave anyone permission to publish their addresses in a local newspaper; and c) never thought that they would be treated like criminals for a psychopathic act they had nothing to do with and would never condone in a million years.
They also pointed out that revealing their addresses, as well as the types of firearms they registered when applying for and receiving their permits, made them a target for gun thieves and practically every other resident who does not have a handgun permit a potential target for burglars and other criminals.
"Do you fools realize that you also made a map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns in them to protect themselves?" one reader wrote on Facebook.
"You have just destroyed the privacy of these law abiding citizens and by releasing this list, you have equated them to that of sex offenders and murderers," another wrote. "These are law abiding gun owners, they are no danger to anyone except for criminals. And with this information you have made them targets for both criminals and anti-gun lobbyist who i am sure are going to treat them like monsters."
Gee - what else would "readers" like to know?
The idiots at the paper defended the indefensible.
"The massacre in Newtown remains top-of-mind for many of our readers," said a statement. "In the past week, conversation on our opinion pages and on our website, LoHud.com, has been keenly focused on gun control.
"Our readers are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods. We obtained the names and addresses of Westchester and Rockland residents who are licensed to own handguns through routine Freedom of Information law public-records requests."
First of all, there is no way of knowing just how many readers really wanted to know about guns in local neighborhoods; this sounds more like the editors of the paper not only wanted to know, but wanted to "out" these law-abiding gun owners as somehow culpable to the Newtown tragedy.
Secondly, just because some readers may say they want to know certain things about their neighbors doesn't give them - or the press - the right to know. Private property is just that - private - and unless someone is using something they own to hurt another or deprive them of their life, liberty or property, there is no public right to know, and no paper's obligation to reveal such information.
What's next - revealing how much cash people keep in their homes? How many have a back-up generators and long-term storable rations, because some readers have been asking? Who has ammunition in their home? Extra clothing and batteries?
There should be some ACLU lawyers lining up to take this case. Let's hope at least some of the needlessly exposed want to pursue a legal recourse.