Earlier this year, the Journal News in upstate New York published an interactive map of thousands of legal gun owners that included names and addresses, placing perfectly law-abiding citizens in potential danger through a public shaming – a shaming akin to publishing the addresses of sex offenders.
And now … there’s an app for that.
A new android app called “Gun Geo Marker” allows users to locate “potentially unsafe guns and gun owners”, but would also allow the addresses of law-abiding citizens to be published for any user to find.
Via the Washington Times Communities:
A newly released Android app may expose gun owner’s addresses to the entire world. The “Gun Geo Marker” application, now available in the Google Play App Store, is intended to allow anonymous reporting and public tracking of “irresponsible gun owners”.
Developed by University of California San Diego lecturer Brett Stalbaum, the anonymous application encourages random users to document the home or business addresses of allegedly irresponsible gun owners via real-time mapping. What determines “irresponsible” gun ownership is entirely at the discretion of the unknown user marking the map.
Fortunately, at the time of this posting, the app had only been downloaded a little over 1,000 times, and had received a 1-star review 95% of the time.
I downloaded the app to see how it functioned. I set about marking a bus stop location, and saw possible reasons for wanting to report a dangerous gun situation. One such reason listed? Anti-Government/Terror Threat. Rough translation? Tea Party member.
Other vague reasons for reporting allegedly dangerous gun owners include ‘medical related concerns’, and ‘neighborhood talk’.
I was able to report myself as a threat because “This guy believes in Right to Bear Arms and adheres to the Constitution”. My apologies for the broken English, but the number of characters in a report are limited.
Fortunately, I think people on both sides of the gun debate can plainly see that the app is of an amateurish, terrible quality. It took three tries to “mark” my location because it kept crashing.
Also, even the most ardent anti-gun nut could see that a report can be generated for any reason. Marking “dangerous gun owners” involves tagging a specific location, based on the phone’s GPS location. I could literally walk down the street and tag each home I pass by, completely fabricating reasons for the report.
While clearly not a genuine threat because of quality issues, the concept behind this app remains dangerous and could certainly lead to far more right-infringing apps down the line.