Robbers and databases

Ok, so if I can make sense of this quote from a reader of @JamesTaranto’s Best of the Web, and I’m not sure that’s possible, the gun-permit database posted by the Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., endangers BOTH those who own guns and were exposed by the database AND those who don’t own guns and were exposed (by omission) by the database. For what it’s worth, I seriously doubt the average robber consults databases when selecting targets, and I’d be amazed if either Taranto or his reader could point to a single instance of that actually happening.

If you look at the map carefully at the neighborhood level, they used a version of Google Maps to plot the locations of pistol permitees, but many of the plots are wrong. In my vicinity, I have identified at least three addresses that are incorrectly positioned. This is a serious journalistic error. It exposes those without guns to robbers who expect to find guns in their houses and will likely be more aggressive as they expect (based on the maps) the residents to be armed. In addition, it puts robbers at potential risk of entering a house expecting no weapons and getting justifiably confronted with a weapon.

Gun owners, especially those who like to talk publicly about the fact they have a concealed-carry permit, often ask why those of us who don’t either feel the need to have a concealed carry permit or talk about it think some of them might be a little paranoid.

The paragraph above should be saved as Exhibit A. This person, anyway, believes the expected presence of a gun puts a homeowner at greater risk of robbery. But so does the expected lack of presence of a gun.

It can be one, or the other, but only in the universe of a very paranoid person can it be both.

Full disclosure: I once was one of the decision-makers who decided it would be a good idea to post a database of concealed-carry holders. After the uproar that followed and further opportunity think about it, I decided we didn’t have a sufficiently compelling reason to put that database up. The Journal-News has apparently decided it did. More power to them.

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