New Android app publicly tracks gun owners' addresses for all users

Photo: Facebook/End Gun Owner Discrimination

DALLAS, July 9, 2013 - A newly released Android app may expose gun owners’ 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.

As reported, the market guidelines state, “…unlocked, loaded or carelessly stored weapons should generally be treated with concern by friends, neighbors and visitors. The locations of such careless owners should probably be marked so that others can make an informed decision.”

“The Gun Geo Marker operates very simply, letting parents and community members mark, or geolocate, sites associated with potentially unsafe guns and gun owners. These locations are typically the homes or businesses of suspected unsafe gun owners, but might also be public lands or other locations where guns are not handled safely, or situations where proper rights to own or use any particular type of firearm may not exist.”

Gun owners are not pleased with the application citing that the need to “create awareness” of suspected “dangerous” gun owners does not trump the privacy of individuals and their sensitive, personal property.

Dave, a 34-year old Dallas resident and former law-enforcement officer cited legal concerns, but also moral and ethical worries.

“This creates prime terroritory for an extremist witch hunt, but worse, ready information for tech-savvy criminals. If I were seeking a gun why wouldn’t I simply cross-reference the addresses listed with Spokeo information, find a female target and pay a visit? Worse, if one house is armed and the next is not, and I’m looking for an easy target, who do I choose? Takes 5 minutes. This will be abused, it’s irresponsible and frankly, disturbing.“ 

The opportunity for mischief, malice and dangerous situations for those mapped is arguably rife.

A poster in an online forum, which requested anonymity asked, “What protects the privacy of sexual assault victims, which carry personal protection weapons, from being identified by perpetrators? That’s me and guess what? My liberal Democrat neighbor and I don’t get along. She simply dislikes me and Republicans for her personal reasons. She’s so vindicitve that she stole my Romney signs out of my yard.

“She knows I own guns. This isn’t petty to ask: though I’ve never been irresponsible, what prevents people like that from “listing” me without consequences? People use technology like this, unfortunately.”

Some are coordinating online to make the privacy-violating service indiscernible and unusable.

As one poster wrote, “If you are a gun owner and someone has marked your house, mark every house around your block and your privacy is essentially restored. In fact, the criminals who are bound to use this app will most certainly avoid your block if they see that every single house on the map has an “irresponsible” gun owner with “dangerously stored ” guns.”

This application is sure to stir further concerns. Some asked that, given the divisive, political nature of “gun control” debates, how is the application any different from those that would identify individuals based on religion, race or sexual orientation for harassment? 

In an online post, the application-maker replied, “Yes, I guess this is the same as “publicly geotag homes of people believed to belong to a particular religion”. True enough, if your religion requires live child sacrifices to appease a cold, tubular god. Other than that special case which is 100% hypothetical, it is clear that the Gun Geo Marker is a simple gun-safety project that enables parents and neighbors to understand their geography of risk.”

Encouraging private citizens to anonymously accuse others of vaguely-defined “unsafe practices” instead of addressing their disagreements personally underscores a near-discriminatory mentality emerging from anti-gun crowds. Such an attitude highlights a growing disdain among those without respect for their fellow American’s right to privacy or self-defense.

The application’s maker has tweeted alleged offensive statements from angry gun-owners, which some rebuke as a publicity stunt aimed at drawing attention to the application. It is common for social media outlets to post sensational remarks to increase traffic and debate for the purpose of successful launch. 

The developer was unavailable for comment at the time of publication, but can be reached via Facebook or Twitter. Brett Stalbaum can also be reached at bstalbaum@ucsd.edu or by telephone at (225) 267-7346. The Facebook page for UC San Diego is also open for comments. Developers advise to report the application for privacy abuse via Google here. They suggest that if you share your thoughts, please keep it respectful. 


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Tiffany Madison

Tiffany is a writer and veteran's advocate. Her column focuses on civil liberties, veteran's issues and current events. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanymadisonFacebook or her website.

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