Battle between 1st and 2nd Amendments

New York state passed a law on Tuesday that keeps the records of gun permit holders confidential.

The issue arose after The Journal News published a graphic that pinpointed the names and addresses of gun permit holders in two New York counties — Westchester and Rockland. As a result, the Journal News was also forced to remove the map, which the publication subsequently did with no objection.

However, there are others within the journalism industry that are not willing to go away as quietly, arguing that hiding these records takes away from the purpose of the freedom of the press — to inform citizens to help ensure public knowledge and safety.

So, what we have here is a battle between the first two amendments of the Bill of Rights. Many side with the first — particularly journalists — stating that it keeps people aware of firearms in their surroundings. Many side with the second, stating that gun permits should not be flaunted just because some people with firearms are considered dangerous.

Does naming and specifically locating people with gun permits take away from those people’s privacy? Does shielding the rest of the public from knowing “potential threats” in their surroundings promote a lack of safety? Are there any ways that these two entities — press and gun laws — can work in unison to create safety/privacy for both sides?


4 Comments on “Battle between 1st and 2nd Amendments”

  1. likeyouropinionman says:

    This issue brings up questions of legality and ethics. When it comes to the law I think there shouldn’t be a legal restriction on this kind of information. But, I think that publishing something like this is ethically wrong. A responsible newspaper shouldn’t publish this information because it does needlessly invade people’s privacy and potentially endangers them. If a news organization wants to work towards safety they should cover the enforcement, infringement and discussion of gun laws, not the personal information of law abiding citizens.

  2. bfutch says:

    Journalists have the right to publish any records that are public, so the Journal News had every right to create and post the map of permit carriers. The question is whether it was necessary to do so. The Journal should have only published the addresses of handgun permit holders if its writers belived doing so would significantly improve the saftely of New York residences. Simply because infromation is publicly accessable does not make it necessary or interesting to print. Lawfully, the Journal was perfectly able to publish the infromation before the the new law passed. It remains ambiguous whether it was within proper journalistic practice.

  3. alibleakley says:

    I believe the newspaper lawfully posted the map, but with knowledge they would cause controversy and the intention to do so. The incident drew national attention to “The Journal News” and the map served as a successful tool to communicate the issue of gun control. However, the publishing of both names and addresses was an excessive measure to get their point across. It seems that they took advantage of both the sensitivity of the nation to guns after the shooting and of the first amendment. The words profess freedom of the press, but ethics and taste should be implied. If the map was published six months after the shooting, I don’t think it would have resulted in the passing of a new New York law. Even though the map was met with protest, I side with the First Amendment in this case.

  4. tiffke says:

    This is a very touchy subject that many, including me, are on the fence about. Just because a person carries a gun, legally, does not mean they are a threat. There are many others out there that have a gun or know where to get one, without taking the proper steps. This should be the concern. It is too easy for people to get a gun and I think the process of buying one should change. But the Journal went a little to far in my opinion on freedom of the press. What was done is simply unethical. I think the new law will allow these people the privacy they need and deserve for obeying the law.

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