Last December, The Journal News, published in White Plains, New York posted an interactive map of everyone in Westchester and Rockland counties that have a gun permit. Thousands of law abiding citizens had their names and addresses made public for every criminal in the area to know that they own a firearm.
Legal gun owners in those two counties were irate and went after the newspaper and its publishers. The interactive map was soon taken down, but the damage had been done. Burglars now knew what houses to watch and burgle once the homeowner left. In one case, just days after the interactive map, someone used a ladder to break into a gun owner’s home where they stole the man’s guns. If I was that 70 year old man, I would have sued the newspaper for everything it had.
Former thieves that have since retired or turned to legal means of employment say that the publication of the interactive map was asinine and reprehensible. One former thief said:
“That was the most asinine article I’ve ever seen…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?…What they did was insanity”
Another former thief echoed those sentiments, saying:
“They just created an opportunity for some crimes to be committed and I think it’s exceptionally stupid. 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. 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.”
But if you thought the posting of the interactive map for 2 counties was outrageous, wait till you see the Android app that someone created. It’s called, Gun Geo Marker app and it was released to Google’s Play app store on July 7. Supposedly, the goal of the app is to just gather information on homes and businesses of ‘suspected unsafe gun owners…to help others in the area learn about their geography of risk from gun accidents or violence.’ Brett Stalbaum, developer of the app defends it saying that it is a reasonable measure to improve gun safety and prevent the crisis of child shooting deaths.
However, anyone could enter an address of anyone they suspected of owning a firearm, safe or unsafe and that information would be available to all other users of the app. In fact, gun rights advocates have been spamming the app with many false markers in an attempt to render the app useless, according to Stalbaum.
The Gun Geo Marker app quickly received over 700 one-star reviews. One reviewer of the app, Levi Russell wrote:
“This is dangerous and invasive. Dangerous because it allows criminals to determine where they might steal firearms….you are an accomplice to any firearm theft that will occur due to the existence of this app.”
Another reviewer, Danielle Sigman wrote:
“Major violation of privacy. Could cause a lot of safety issues for non-gun owners.”
I ask Stalbaum the same question I asked the The Journal News – is he prepared to accept the legal consequences for those that use his app for illegal purposes? Is he prepared for the lawsuits that could be raised from business and home owners who have break-ins and guns stolen who were marked on his app? Be assured that at least one or two such lawsuits are sure to be filed by victims of his irresponsibility and violation of the privacy of law abiding citizens.
Just think of what kind of information his app could yield had the universal background check laws been passed? Anyone with certain skills could get their hands on a list of those background checks and start markers on the app of all of their addresses. Now do you still favor background checks or any form of gun registration?