Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again!

Remember that map of the names and addresses of lawful gun owners some idiot journalist and editor conspired to publish in an effort to intimidate the good citizens of New York?

Well it worked.  Inmates are intimidating prison guards.
Law enforcement officials from a New York region where a local paper published a map identifying gun owners say prisoners are using the information to intimidate guards.

Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco, who spoke at a news conference flanked by other county officials, said the Journal News' decision to post an online map of names and addresses of handgun owners Dec. 23 has put law enforcement officers in danger.

"They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That's not acceptable to me," Falco said, according to Newsday.

Robert Riley, an officer with the White Plains Police Department and president of its Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, agreed.

"You have guys who work in New York City who live up here. Now their names and addresses are out there, too," he said adding that there are 8,000 active and retired NYPD officers currently living in Rockland County.

Way to go Journal News.  Lest we forget, let's link to the map of journal news reporters' names and addresses.  Vindictive?  Nah.

I am getting so many hits from the Captain's viewers I feel like I should have said more.

This thoughtless act really helps to separate two distinct kinds of people, and it is described quite nicely by Bastiat's classic broken window fallacy.  That is the concept of seen effects vs. unseen effects, or even more generally whether or not one looks for the consequences of their actions beyond that which is obvious. 

The journalist and his editor quite obviously intended to intimidate gun owners, or to shame them, but their intent was an attack, whatever their underlying purpose.  The consequence they "saw" was this "shame" they imagined we would feel.  They, perhaps, if they are truly evil, saw the danger we would be put in. They may have wanted that danger, they may have, as the legislator from New Hampshire has said, wanted to restrict enough of our freedoms as to make their town inhospitible to us, and thereby make us leave.

What they didn't see - where they didn't bother to look, is the unitended consequences.  First, the backlash which resulted in the names of their journalists and editors, and their addresses being placed on a similar map. (They responded by hiring armed guards!  hah!)   And second this story of police and sheriffs being put at risk.

The reality is that when faced with decisions, one must understand both the obvious and not obvious consequences of those decisions, otherwise the actions introduce risk of loss and harm that the system will be completely unprepared for.

Update 2:

It never ends.  Our freedoms and our very lives are at risk here.
The names and addresses of about 170,000 handgun permit holders in Connecticut, now kept confidential by law, could be made public under a proposed bill that pits gun owners against would-be reformers in the aftermath of the Dec. 14 Newtown school massacre.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Stephen D. Dargan, D-West Haven, co-chairman of the legislature's public safety committee, would make public the names and addresses of permit holders under Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act — and would reverse lawmakers' decision to protect that personal information from disclosure nearly two decades ago.

Update 3:

A second home listed on the gun owners' addresses map has been burglarized.  This time the burglar made off with two handguns.  Shouldn't the justice department be pressing charges against the editor and the "reporter"?   Well of course they should, but let's not forget that this is the justice department that refused to prosecute Eric Holder for covering up the failed successful gun smuggling operation that put weapons into the hands of the drug dealers that killed our border patrol agent.  How can we trust them to do anything right?  I know, I know, rhetorical question.

Call your representatives, people.  Call them every day.  Tell them that you do NOT support further restrictions on lawful gun owners, and you DEMAND protection of your personal information held by the government. 

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