NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 22, 2013

'Conversation' on guns was over before it started

In the wake of the terrible massacre of innocent children in Newtown, Conn., we were told we needed to have a national conversation on guns.

There has been little useful conversation. While there has been some positive discussion of strengthening background checks, others have resorted to demonizing everyone who owns a gun.

New York provides the earliest examples of where this style of “conversation” is heading.

In the suburbs north of New York City, a day or so after Christmas the Journal News newspaper took it upon itself to publish an interactive map revealing the names and addresses of gun permit holders in its coverage area. These people had committed no crimes. They had merely endured the arduous process of licensing themselves to be legal owners of firearms.

Journal News executives justified this egregious abuse of their First Amendment rights by claiming that such information is a matter of public record. Indeed, it was at the time the story was published. But publishing the information served no purpose other than to advance the newspaper’s anti-gun agenda through the public shaming of those who had exercised their constitutional rights. The publication was a shameful abrogation of a newspaper’s responsibility to its readers.

Already, two homes included on the list have been burglarized and the homeowners’ guns taken or targeted. There will surely be more to follow.

Last week, leaders of the New York State Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo worked behind the scenes to broker a deal to toughen the state’s already restrictive gun laws. Among its many provisions, the bill cuts the magazine size limit from 10 to seven rounds and expands the definition of what makes a gun an “assault weapon.”

There was no “conversation” on these sweeping limitations on the rights of gun owners. They were rushed through the Assembly and immediately signed by Cuomo.

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