This week’s outrage comes to us from a rather unlikely source: the Google Play app store. The new app is called the Gun Geo Marker, and encourages users to “geolocate dangerous guns and owners” in their communities.
According to Google Play, “Geolocation means marking dangerous sites on the App’s map so that you and others can be aware of the risks in your neighborhood.” Think about that for a minute. The purpose of the app–other than sensationalism and profit–is to encourage people to anonymously “flag” locations in their community they subjectively deem “dangerous” and to make that information as public as possible. The probability for abuse and the certainty of inaccurate “reporting” cannot be overstated. What’s to keep people from marking any location for any reason at all? Nothing. The practice is not only a serious invasion of privacy, but would also be just as dangerous and irresponsible as publishing the names of concealed-carry permit holders in local papers.
The app could enable thieves to target and steal firearms from law-abiding gun owners, while conversely advertising that other residences are “gun free” and therefore easy targets for criminals.
In a recent Fox News article, John Lott, firearms policy expert and author of the book More Guns, Less Crime, said, “This makes those who don’t have guns an easier target for criminals. It’s a safety issue. I’ve debated a lot of gun control advocates over the years, and I’ve never met someone who has been willing to put up a sign in front of their house indicating that their home is a gun-free zone.”
Of course, there is an obvious anti-gun, anti-NRA element to all of this. The Gun Geomarker site says: “You should not be concerned merely because your neighbors are a member of any national gun advocacy organization. The actual threat – just to cite the best known org – that the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its kin present to you and your children is political. This can be seen clearly in their consistent opposition to gun safety laws that would, for example, require parents to properly secure their guns, allow prosecutors to bring charges against people who allow kids to play with loaded guns, or when they help pass laws prohibiting doctors from asking children about guns in the home in an epidemiological attempt to help prevent children from shooting other children.”
The Fox News article notes that Brett Stalbaum, the developer of Gun Geo Marker and a lecturer with the Visual Arts department of the University of California, San Diego, said, “The gun rights community has been busy making personal threats (we remain unconcerned), as well as spamming the Gun Geo Marker database with false markers. Though these fake markers are not useful for identifying dangerous guns and owners, they are certainly representative of the highly paranoid reaction we have come to expect from any attempt to improve gun safety in the United States. This kind of reaction–automatically lining up on the wrong side of reasonable measures to improve the safe use and ownership of guns — aids and abets the crisis of child shooting deaths.”
That should tell you all you need to know about the app developer’s political agenda.
Starting down this type of path not only leads to inaccurate, invasive, and dangerous “flagging,” but is has the potential to take us from “land of the free” to “spy on your neighbor, comrade” very quickly.