My local newspaper has been making news lately. The paper decided to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the names and addresses of gun permit holders in two counties in our area and published them online using an interactive map. This way you could know who has the guns in your neighborhood. Because of the way they used the information, a third county refused to give reporters the information they requested.
Let me stop a moment to say I have never owned a gun. I was proud of my uncles who were hippies. I knew what a conscientious objector was before I knew my times tables. As a city dweller, guns were a black and white issue for me: I figured anyone who had a gun was either a cop or they were doing something illegal. I thought all hunters were a cross between Elmer Fudd and the hunters who killed Bambi's mother. Guns were the enemy of peace. It was a culture shock for me to meet my husband's family for the first time. He grew up learning how to shoot and hunt. My mother didn't even want my brother have a toy gun. (FYI, my brother built one out of Tinker Toys.)
I suppose our newspaper thought it was the right of their readers to know who owned guns in their neighborhood. The tragedy in Newtown stunned us, and the fact that the guns were legally obtained has made many fearful. The problem is that action done in fear is not well thought out action. Printing names and addresses of owners of gun permits because of this incident is an overreaction. Look at it this way. What if the crazy person got into his pickup truck, drove to a school and plowed through students during recess or as they were walking in or out of the school. I'm sure there would be as much outrage, but it wouldn't trigger a response to print the names and addresses of every licensed driver or even every truck owner. It may not seem like the same thing, but it is. We are punishing law-abiding citizens for an act of senseless violence. As much as I think there is no reason for a private citizen to own a semi-automatic rifle, I also disagree with my newspaper's abuse of the Freedom of Information Act.
Freedom is power. In the words of Stan Lee, "with great power, comes great responsiblity." Left or right leaning, it's time we stopped feeding on sensationalist, fear-driven media. It only divides us as a nation.
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."