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Rights and Responsibilities

February 15, 2013

“Transparency” means the people know what their government is up to, not what their neighbors are up to.

Sad to say, 2013 stands to be the Year the Second Amendment was Debated into Gruel. As with any healthy pursuit, excess invariably turns the whole concept inside out like a nauseous sea cucumber, and the “gun control” issue is no exception.

One disturbing side effect is the new fad of media entities wielding the Freedom of Information Act to collect data about how private citizens exercise the right to bear arms (the “well regulated militia” bit is a whole other argument). I’m not talking about statistics here. I’m talking about the collecting and publishing the names, addresses, and so forth of private citizens who have Concealed Carry Permits.

My understanding of the Freedom of Information Act is that it was enacted to allow the people a window into the behind-the-scenes activities of government in order to discourage corruption and abuse of power, not to provide a window into the personal business of private citizens.

Freedoms are no stronger than the level of responsibility with which they are enjoyed. I’m an avid defender of Freedom of the Press, having been active in school journalism, editor of my college newspaper, and editor of a local paper for several years at one time. But I have always held freedom and responsibility to be inseparable, and I believe the current de trop interest in collecting data about individuals and their legitimate use of firearms crosses the line of responsible exercise of that freedom.

When freedoms are abused, they attract limitations, and if those aren’t generated from within, they will inevitably be enacted by government. Self regulation is the key to self government. Publishing the names and addresses of those holding Concealed Carry Permits is a reckless pursuit, and the local newspaper or broadcaster (or blogger?) building random or “just in case” dossiers about you and me is no more desirable than the government doing the same thing.

 

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