“Release The Names Of Gun Cardholders?”
By David Codrea
From the July 2011 Issue of GUNS Magazine Rights Watch Column
“Release the names of gun cardholders,” a Chicago Sun-Times editorial demands. “In recent days, a new debate has been sparked by an Associated Press’ Freedom of Information request for the names of gun permit holders,” we are informed.
For those unfamiliar with Illinois’ “gun control” laws, obtaining a Firearms Owner Identification Card (FOID) from the Illinois State Police is a requirement for residents to legally possess firearms or ammunition.
Note the word “legally.” The AP demands to make public the names of everyone who has shown a willingness to jump through hoops and comply with the law. That will do nothing to identify criminals, the ones creating all the problems, who just ignore it. So naturally, the anti-gun lobby, the “mainstream” media and opportunistic government officials are all for it, including Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who issued a ruling saying the list must be disclosed.
“To their credit,” Kurt Hofmann writes in his St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column, “the state police have resisted the AP’s demand for this information, and are apparently poised to resist Madigan’s ruling, as well.”
“There is no legitimate reason for anyone to have access to the information,” Illinois State Rifle Association Director Richard Pearson declared. “The safety of real people is at stake here. Once this information is released, it will be distributed to street gangs and gun-control groups who will use the data to target gun owners for crime and harassment.”
“We can’t see how releasing just the names of the state’s 1.3 million FOID holders poses much of a privacy risk, except perhaps for folks with truly unusual names,” the Sun-Times counters. “In a state as big as Illinois, a lot of people share the same name.”
This is echoed by assistant public access counselor Matthew Rogina, who claims “ISP has offered no details to support its argument that disclosure of this information to the AP would result in a safety threat to any individual.”
Thing is, it took me under 30 seconds, literally, to use commonly available Internet resources and find four matches for Rogina’s exact name. I found not only birthdates, street addresses and telephone numbers for them, but could spend a few seconds more and get aerial shots and even street views. Were he an FOID card holder, I’d know where I could find a gun when the house is unoccupied. Had he since moved, the new residents at those addresses would be at risk. And if it’s simply someone with the same “unusual” name, perhaps a relative, they’d be subject to similar prying scrutiny.
Does anyone really think rabid-anti-gunners wouldn’t exploit this mapping technology, claiming a First Amendment right to correlate and post public records?
What will happen now?
State Sen. David Reis is co-sponsoring a bill to “protect the privacy rights of FOID Card holders by prohibiting state or local law enforcement agencies from disclosing lists of information pertaining to FOID Card holders or applicants,” The Carmi Times reports. Unfortunately, at this writing, that bill is stalled following a 5-5 vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
Visit David’s blog: www.davidcodrea.com for more information—Editor