Editorial: Talking neighborhood awareness

Jan. 07, 2013 @ 06:27 PM

Events and changes in society cause us to consider what we do and how we do it with regularity.

Among the recent pauses for consideration was gun permits, and publishing the public records of those who obtain them.

The Dispatch doesn’t currently publish the listing. We could but do not have plans to add it and are subject to revisit our consideration at any time.

The Journal News in Westchester County, N.Y., posted an online database of local gun-permit owners following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The database doesn’t include guns owned, just the fact an address would include a permitted owner.

Long guns, rifles and shotguns, not requiring a permit were not included.

Editors and publishers of any newspaper make decisions on what content fills the pages based on the respective community. At The Dispatch, our approach has been to deliver what is important, interesting and useful. We’re cognizant of the fact we charge for our product, and therefore we should deliver value.

The debate on publishing gun permits, for us, isn’t limited by staffing restrictions. We choose to make time to publish police and sheriff matters of record.

We’ve chosen not to publish who gains gun permits because of the lack of value in public service to the community. If criminals want to find out who has the rights to a gun and might shoot them if they break in, or who might have a weapon they can steal, they’re allowed to look it up in the public records.

The New York newspaper made a sound decision, opting to share with its readers as much information as possible about gun ownership in its area.

For us, we think the intention is commendable. A better way to know about your neighborhood is to talk to your neighbors, not read their names on lists.

Over the fence chats may be so 1960s, but bonding as a neighborhood can still be done through Community Watch, civic organizations, churches and just plain old visiting on the porch or at the fence. Talking is still the best way to know your neighbors.

As you get to know them, share your values and concerns. In that, there is great value for more than your newspaper.