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.

Blogging Dan

Sorry that new posts have been so rare. I’ve been in a very intensive period with my day job. I plan to return to more regular updates in the next week or two.

Comment issues on Blogging Dan

I’ve been using the Intense Debate plugin on this site. It had some cool features that I thought would be good. However, it’s also been plagued with problems, including the comment-length issue that Joe noted. I decided, therefore, to deactivate the plugin. However, one of the issues I’ve had is that the Intense Debate comments are no longer synced with the WordPress comments. When I pulled the plug, most of the recent comments went away.

Sorry about that – but I figure it’s better to rip the band-aid off now than wait until a lot more comments have built up.

Hopefully, everyone can pick up the debate where it was. I apologize for the inconvenience.

My last column in The Roanoke Times

My final column was published in The Roanoke Times yesterday. I’ll be working through the end of the month, but I’ll be concentrating on writing editorials, tying up loose ends and cleaning out my office.

I’m eager to start the next chapter of my career with the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment (yes, one of the first things we’re talking about is a new name).

As I wrote in yesterday’s column:

When I left the Gazette, I wrote about how my 10 years there had shaped me as an editorial writer and how I had come to realize tremendous satisfaction in helping give the powerless a voice as they fight the exploitation of the powerful.

That exploitation has been a recurring theme in the history of Appalachia, and fighting it is the mission of the organization I’m joining.

The debate is about coal, climate change, state and federal regulations, the fragile economies of states like Kentucky and West Virginia, and the mountains, rivers and forests of Appalachia. It involves complex, emotionally powerful issues involving people’s jobs, their health, their homes and their children.

I am looking forward to retaking a place in that debate.

Indeed, I am.

Welcome to Blogging Dan

I’m Dan Radmacher. I’ve been writing editorials and columns for more than 20 years. After working at The Roanoke Times for nearly six years and the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette for 10 years before that, I’m getting ready to make the jump in to nonprofit work as communications director for the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment. This is my personal blog. I’ll be writing about state and national political issues, the environment, public discourse and whatever else crosses my mind – probably including the occasional book, movie or music review. The blog won’t really pick up until my last day at The Times on March 31, but check back for the occasional post.

I’m a firm believer in civil discourse, so be polite and reasonable in your comments. Disagreement is welcome; personal insults are not.

Have fun, and welcome to the conversation.