I would like to give an opinion on the April 18 article headlined "Privacy of owning weapons debated."
I am a Vietnam-era veteran and I support the Constitution of the United States of America to its fullest.
There are two amendments involved in the article. The First Amendment, which gives the press the right to publish news, information and opinions without government interference. And the Second Amendment, which states, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
The question is what interest does the media have in knowing who has a pistol permit?
Walter Williams, founder of the Missouri School of Journalism in 1914, wrote "The Journalist's Creed," which reads, in part, "I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service."
So, is it a public service to print a list of pistol permit holders and is it in the best interest of the readers?
I really don't think we need a new law to protect pistol permit holders. I think journalists should review the "Journalist's Creed" and then decide if this information would be a public service and in the best interest of the readers.
As for County Legislator William Coughlin, the Constitution does not specifically mention a right to privacy. However, Supreme Court decisions over the years have established the right to privacy is a basic human right, and as such is protected by virtue of the Ninth Amendment.
The right to privacy has come to the public's attention via several controversial Supreme Court rulings, including several dealing with contraception (the Griswold and Eisenstadt cases), interracial marriages (the Loving case), and abortion (the well-known Roe v. Wade case).
In addition, it is said that a right to privacy is inherent in many of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights, such as the Third, the Fourth's search and seizure limits, and the Fifth's self-incrimination limit.
Richard Lancaster is a Westfield resident.