The timing is certainly suspicious, to say the least. Just days after a local newspaper published an interactive map showing the location of people who have handgun permits in two New York counties, burglars broke into one of the houses revealed by the map. Coincidence? Not exactly — the burglars went straight for the gun safe:
A White Plains residence pinpointed on a controversial handgun permit database was burglarized Saturday, and the burglars’ target was the homeowner’s gun safe.
At least two burglars broke into a home on Davis Avenue at 9:30 p.m. Saturday but were unsuccessful in an attempt to open the safe, which contained legally owned weapons, according to a law enforcement source. One suspect was taken into custody, the source said.
The gun owner was not home when the burglary occurred, the source said. The victim, who is in his 70s, told Newsday on Sunday that he did not want to comment while the police investigation continues.
It’s no coincidence to state Senator Greg Ball, according to BuzzFeed, which posted Ball’s statement shortly after the story hit the airwaves:
In a statement, State Senator Greg Ball, a conservative Republican who represents many of those listed on the gun map and has called for legislation to make gun license information secret, said the local newspaper that published it should be held accountable.
“The Journal News has placed the lives of these folks at risk by creating a virtual shopping list for criminals and nut jobs. If the connection is proven, this is further proof that these maps are not only an invasion of privacy but that they present a clear and present danger to law-abiding, private citizens. Former convicts have already testified to the usefulness of the asinine Journal News ‘gun maps’ yet the reckless editors are evidently willing to roll the dice, gambling with the lives of innocent local homeowners.”
The investigation continues. However, what is beyond dispute is that the Journal News has provided a map to every criminal that wants to find weapons but can’t do so legally, thanks to the restrictions already in place on gun sales. If the newspaper — which has since hired armed guards for itself — wanted to make the area safer, they could hardly have come up with a worse strategy.
Also, this is a few weeks old, but it’s worth revisiting. Just how well has the Obama administration enforced current gun laws? Paul Bedard reports that weapons prosecutions have dropped over 40% from the Bush administration:
Despite his calls for greater gun control, including a new assault weapons ban that extends to handguns, President Obama’s administration has turned away from enforcing gun laws, cutting weapons prosecutions some 40 percent since a high of about 11,000 under former President Bush. …
Figures collected by Syracuse University’s TRAC project, the authority on prosecutions from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, shows that the administration has reduced the focus on gun crimes and instead steered prosecutors and investigators to drug crimes.
According to an October 2011 TRAC report, “There also has been a shifting emphasis towards drug-related investigations. Since ATF-referred prosecutions peaked in FY 2005, the number of weapons prosecutions actually has fallen by 32 percent, a much higher rate than for ATF prosecutions overall. Making up the difference has been the growing number of drug cases, up by 26 percent during the same period.”
Also, the ATF seemed more focused on trying to ship weapons over the border into Mexico than in actually enforcing existing law. That might have something to do with the falloff — or it just might be that gun-related crime has declined despite the increase in sales over that same period.