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In the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut last month a newspaper serving the New York City suburbs, The Journal News, decided to post to its website the names and addresses of all of the legal gun owners in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties. Gun owners were outraged. In response a blogger posted the names and addresses of the key players at the newspaper’s editorial staff. The Journal, a unit of USA Today publisher Gannett, accessed the names and addresses via a Freedom Of Information request which makes most government data available to the public.

This is a blatant misuse of government data and the government is complicit in that misuse. The state of New York requires that all handguns be registered. That means that in order to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, a law abiding citizen must request permission from the state of New York, something they don’t have to do with the freedom of religion, speech or anything else in the Constitution. (This doesn’t apply to owning a rifle, only handguns.) Bad enough that citizens must ask, but what’s worse, New York is a “May issue” state, which means that the state has the right to say “No, you are not allowed to exercise your 2nd Amendment right”. A denial can only be overturned in court if the denial is shown to be arbitrary and capricious. And don’t forget, in the case of New York City, the people making that decision are part of the same government that thinks it’s reasonable to ban large sodas.

If perchance the government deigns to allow you to own a gun in New York, and if you then want to carry that gun outside your home, you’ll now have to request permission for that separately – and that does apply to long guns as well. The state or local authorities then get to decide if you have a good reason to carry one. It doesn’t matter if you believe you need it for self defense, what matters is whether or not you can convince them that you need it for self defense.

So now that the government of New York has forced its citizens to beg for permission in order to exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms, it then keeps all their names and addresses in a database that it then shares with just about anyone who asks.

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