Andrew Sullivan has asked "If gun rights are civil rights, why would anyone feel the need to hide the fact that they own one?" A post by Eugene provides a commonsense list of a wide variety of circumstances in which a person exercising her civil rights would have good reasons for preferring that newspapers not publish a list of all the people in an area who exercise a particular right.
In a recent article in America's 1st Freedom, Paul Gallant, Joanne Eisen and I addressed the controversy of newspapers publishing lists of people with handgun permits. We discuss various ways in which the publication can assist criminals. One newspaper which was considering publishing a list was The News Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Indiana:
When the newspaper surveyed its readers, the paper was informed of a situation in which one licensee was living a reclusive, secretive life because of fear of a violent ex-spouse. If the paper published the CHL [concealed handgun license] list, the woman’s life would be endangered. The newspaper’s final decision was in favor of the immediate safety of that one woman, and thus against publishing the list.Victims who are hiding from violent stalkers are one group of people with handgun licenses who have a special need for confidentiality; another group is retired police officers, who are at risk of being targeted by revenge-minded criminals.