The Connecticut Bill to 'Out' Gun Owners Shows Us a Nationalized Issue

In 2000, Rosie O'Donnell's bodyguard applied for a gun permit in Greenwich, Connecticut, presumably so he could protect O'Donnell's child on the way to a public school.  The gun permit was, Rosie claimed, sought by the security firm of her bodyguard and not O'Donnell herself -- but she did not veto the decision.  O'Donnell was therefore a partner with, an enabler of, the one who paid (indirectly) for this application for gun usage, regardless of how she attempted to compartmentalize the decision in her mind as someone else's action and responsibility.  This gives us some insights on how "the 1 percent" form their opinions.

Note that having the financial resources to hire an outside bodyguard, either armed or unarmed, also kept Rosie O'Donnell off Connecticut's list of registered gun owners in Greenwich -- a clever device that other wealthy folks in Greenwich may well be using today.  Perhaps this is why no high-profile celebrity to date has spoken out against calls to make public the names and addresses of all Connecticut's registered gun owners (more on this later).  Of course, if someone is an average-income person who can't hire an expensive bodyguard from a firm, he goes on the state registry -- and Rosie O'Donnell can not only ignore his situation, but even demonize him as she uses the First Amendment to attack the Second Amendment.  If you don't live in Greenwich or some similar wealthy town in the state, how significant can your life be, anyway (to Rosie)?  And besides, it isn't trendy to support gun ownership.  Everyone in Greenwich knows that -- and in the national Democratic Party, from Biden to Feinstein to...Obama.

But back to the example of Connecticut.

One person who didn't think he had to be concerned with politically correct attitudes expressed over wine spritzers and cheese in his state was Richard Burgess.  In a telephone interview with American Thinker, he said that, living in the suburbs of New Haven, he knew both Democrats and Republicans who owned guns.  Burgess thought that whatever people living near the New York State border area of Connecticut said was far removed from his everyday world -- until one day in December of 2011.  Burgess was in a pool hall in Longford, Connecticut, visibly wearing a gun that he had a legal (open carry) right to wear, according to Connecticut law.  He was not drinking.  One patron took exception to his gun, started an argument, and called the police -- an act that didn't phase Burgess, because he knew his rights.  But much to Richard Burgess's surprise, the police arrested him -- Burgess -- on a dubious charge of disorderly conduct and took him away in handcuffs.

Because of that experience, Burgess decided to found Connecticut Carry and champion the cause of the state's gun owners before duly licensed owners throughout the state lose both their legal rights under the Second Amendment -- and be publicly treated the same as the criminals.  At least criminals get a trial first.

When the killings occurred in the Newtown, CT, school,  statewide and national hysteria against gun ownership arose.  To repeat, these were "killings" rather than "shootings"; former Lt. Col. David Grossman, a national expert on military and police training, has pointed out that using the term "shooting" subtly demonizes all licensed gun owners who never break the law by grouping them with murders merely for shooting a gun.  But despite the problems that arose from the Westchester, NY-based Journal News making public a list of those registered to own guns (more on this later), Connecticut State Representative Stephan Dargan (D-West Haven) has now introduced a bill in the legislature that would cause problems for 170,000 Connecticut residents because it would "make public the names and addresses of permit holders under Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act[.]"

Notice that this bill calls for the same clever trick New York State has used.  The state doesn't publish the names of all gun permit holders on its own public website; rather, it leaves it to individuals (such as ex-convicts) or newspaper publishers (who should be convicted) to file a FOIA form to get those names.  If the citizens get robbed or worse, then they will most likely sue the state as a co-defendant.  But for now, the politicians can believe in a utopian fantasy that the remaining family of a dead mother and child whose address were first exposed by some newspaper would claim that the newspaper alone is legally responsible for a problem the state caused.

And there is another aspect -- namely, the selective publication of names.  A newspaper can list all the names and addresses it wants at its website and also leave out those politicians, celebrities, and people with ethnic minority and religious minority names the paper's staff do not wish to disturb for fear of retaliation.  If Rosie O'Donnell or another celebrity has gotten a gun permit in the last few years, chances are that their names will not soon be appearing in a Connecticut paper's website or hard copy edition, even if this chaotic anti-privacy law somehow becomes law.  Meanwhile, a lot of middle-class Democrats who voted for Rep. Stephen Dargan are also gun owners who may become highly upset if they are among the 170,000 whose names become public -- with the help of "trendy" Connecticut newspapers.

This bill is nothing less than an attempt at creating social acceptability, a "new normal" for the practice of publicly shaming gun owners.  It is the twenty-first-century version of the pillory -- without a trial first.

To give you an indication of what could go wrong if Connecticut follows the Westchester-based News Journal's outing of gun owners, reports that prison guards in New York have been threatened, and:

The entirely predictable consequences of the Journal News' decision to publish a map of gun-owners marches on...

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.

Local lawmakers also say that they intend to introduce legislation that prevents information about legal gun owners from being released to the public.


I can add to this an anecdotal -- but significant -- private conversation I had with a person whom I can identify only as working in Connecticut's Department of Corrections. This person fears for his or her own and his or her family's lives and might even flee the state, an idea he or she was already considering in this Northeast high-tax haven.

And then there is the obvious mirror-image problem.  As reported on many websites concerning the News Journal controversy, anyone who doesn't appear as a gun owner could easily be assumed to be an easy, undefended target for criminals to rob.

Rather than dismissing Richard Burgess and Connecticut Carry as an alarmist organization, Rep. Stephen Dargan (D-West Haven) should be thanking him and others for pointing out the potential maelstrom that would result from such a law making public the names of all (or many) Connecticut gun owners.  The state would most likely have more lawsuits than it can imagine or afford.  Connecticut politicians, and many in several other states trying to hop on the post-West Haven massacre hysteria, have lost touch with reality.

In truth, it's hard to tell if Rep. Dargan is just grandstanding, playing to a liberal constituency, or if he really believes he can pass this law to further establish his liberal bona fides.  Perhaps he privately believes that the legislature won't pass it or that the Connecticut Supreme Court will strike it down.  But what if the law passes and an also-liberal CT Supreme Court upholds such a law, despite the wording of the Connecticut and U.S. Constitutions and their amendments?  Who would be willing to become a police or corrections officer if he knew that various convicts (and their friends on the outside), as well as ex-cons, would now easily know where he lives? Wouldn't it be easier to get a nice, safe job, like driving a dynamite truck?  Would Rep. Dargan urge his son or daughter to become a police officer?  Dargan might -- but perhaps more along the lines of running for state attorney general.

What Rep. Dargan is proposing is exposing his state's police and other citizens to conditions not that different from the risks of combat.  But he is offering them no camouflage and greater difficulty in getting weapons to defend themselves -- and he wants their locations revealed on an electronic map readily available not just to his headquarters, but to those who would attack them with deadly force.  It is as if the law-abiding citizens were wearing a prison parolee's ankle bracelet monitor, being de facto accused of wrong acts -- and wrong thoughts -- they have not committed.  That is why Richard Burgess and the membership of have decided to fight back against this myopic Radical Chic tyrannical legislation that is nothing more than an huge statist power-grab.

This proposed legislation and other attacks on legitimate gun owners would be a farce -- if it weren't a nightmare.