Clash of the Titans (1st vs. 2nd Amendment)

In the wake of New York newspaper The Journal News’ publication of publicly available data—including personal information—on gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, Maryland Republican Delegate Pat McDonough held a press conference on Dec. 28 and announced plans to introduce three gun-related bills in the Maryland state legislature. According to the delegate’s press release, the first of these, called the “Gun Owner Privacy Act,” is intended to “prohibit newspapers and other publications from printing personal or private information about firearm owners.”

According to an interview conducted with Blatimore’s City Paper, “The bill is going to prohibit publications from printing private information of gun owners,” he said. “This is really a response to the paper in New York which claimed what they were doing was for the public good, but what it really is is a massive editorial taking up two pages of the newspaper reflecting the position of the newspaper. It’s really dishonest to not say it is an editorial.”

When asked by the City Paper whether his proposal to limit the publication of such identifying information was an attempt to limit the First Amendment in order to protect the Second, McDonough responded “That’s a good way to put it.”

But this just begs the question, is it appropriate to limit the First Amendment freedoms of individuals to publish gun ownership information and for others who are interested to receive that information in order to protect the ownership of guns under the Second Amendment? Realistically, under the Freedom of Information Act, any individual could seek the information published by the Journal News. The information is not private. So is there really a protection guaranteed under the Second Amendment for those who want their gun ownership to remain a secret? Or, is it more important for the public to be told who are the gun owners particular neighborhood? Is there a right to publish that information? Or better yet, to receive it?

Read the article here: Baltimore City Paper

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