Commentary Magazine


Demonizing Gun Owners Isn’t Working

In less than three weeks since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the battle over gun rights has remained in the news thanks to both opponents and supporters of the Second Amendment. The “meaningful action” that President Obama promised would take place the day of the Newtown shooting is still being debated by yet another presidential task force. The task force was set to meet with gun sellers (like Walmart), gun rights advocates and gun control supporters today and members of the entertainment and video game industry later in the afternoon. 

While the national gun conversation rages on, liberals have decided to play hardball with legal gun owners, attempting to shame those who apply for gun permits so that they can legally and safely own and carry guns. The opening salvo came from the Journal News, a local New York newspaper that decided to publish the names and addresses, including a handy map, of every single legally permitted gun owner in Westchester County. Alana wrote about a hilarious twist in the story when the newspaper’s editors, who had received a significant amount of flak for the story, decided to employ armed guards in order to protect the newspaper’s offices.

Yesterday the Internet-rag Gawker published its own version under the headline “Here Is a List of All the A—holes Who Own Guns in New York City,” publicizing the names of every single legal gun owner in New York City, minus their addresses (not out of a sense of decency, but instead out of an inability to obtain them from the NYPD under the Freedom of Information Act). The author of the piece, John Cook, saw no problem with addresses of gun owners being published on the web, stating “In any case, it’s clear that many of the Rockland County and Westchester County gun owners who are outraged at having their addresses plastered on the internet have had those addresses plastered on the internet for years without it causing a problem.” In response, some readers decided to tweet the author’s address, that was already “plastered on the internet,” which was met with an expected amount of hypocritical outrage. I have to wonder if Cook will soon attempt to become a registered gun owner himself in response to real or perceived threats after his Gawker piece. 

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an expected candidate for mayor, spoke out against the Gawker list, telling gun owners “you have not done anything wrong. You’ve met the legal standard.” Unfortunately, Quinn, like Governor Cuomo yesterday, made clear her desire to make legal gun ownership that much more difficult in New York City and state. Quinn remarked “Now do I think the legal standard is high enough or strong enough? No. And do I want to do everything I can to limit the number of guns that are out there? Yes.” A commenter on the story for CBS Local New York asked:

Does she even have an idea about how hard it is to get a legal handgun in this city? She wants tougher rules for it? They already took my tax returns, bank statements, character references, pictures of my place of work, mental health records, personal interview, FBI background check, finger prints, and all this takes almost a year. What else could she add to this to make it “better”?

In response to this kind of gun owner demonization, the NRA has reported astronomical fundraising numbers, announcing to Politico that in just 18 days it has added more than 100,000 new members (aka donors) to its rosters. As Jonathan rightly remarked yesterday, “the more liberals talk about taking away legal guns the better things are for the NRA.”