A newspaper in New York state published the names of people who hold gun permits. It is public information and the publishing of the names has evolved into a controversy, not only among people but newspapers. The Missourian has not published the information of gun permit holders, or of people with conceal/carry permits.

Does it serve a worthwhile purpose to publish the names? The Missourian at this time isn’t convinced it serves a useful purpose or is in the interest of the general public. We do change our minds on occasion so our current policy may be reviewed.

After the names were published, some people argued that it really wasn’t news. We are sure in the county where the newspaper published the names, readers checked the list if for no other reason than to satisfy their curiosity. USA Today published comments from people about this issue. One reader said the issue divides people. Another comment was that if the Second Amendment allows you to own a gun, the First Amendment allows a news organization to publish the names.

Would burglars be deterred from a target if they knew the owner had a gun? So many Americans and business owners now are armed (to a certain extent) that would-be robbers must be aware of that fact. However, armed criminals probably think they have the upper hand by drawing first. Many robbers are desperate and the risk they face isn’t a factor to them.

One comment was that by publishing the names, it gave the mentally-ill a “road map” to steal. Others say it is an invasion of privacy to publish the names. One comment in USA Today was: “This is as controversial as the phone book being a database of people who own a phone.”

An added note: According to the latest information available, there were about 294 million firearms in the United States in 2007, about one for every person in America. Wonder what the number is now? We must be the best armed people in the world. For your own safety, consider that person you are arguing with is armed!