App’s website encourages users to report gun owners who hold anti-government political views
July 11, 2013
A new Smart Phone app describing itself as “tattle ware” allows users to upload information regarding locations where they have “gun related concerns,” allowing people to anonymously report their neighbors and others if issue is taken with their ownership of firearms.
The Gun Geo Marker app, created by a group called The Walkingtools Laboratory and available through the Google Play Android marketplace, says “marking dangerous sites on the App’s map” will let “you and others… be aware of the risks in your neighborhood.”
“The Gun Geo Marker operates very simply, letting parents and community members mark, or geolocate, sites associated with potentially unsafe guns and gun owners,” the app’s Google Play store description states.
“Electronically marking these locations can help others in the area learn about their geography of risk from gun accidents or violence,” the software’s creators claim.
GunGeoMarker.org’s “Gun Marking Guidelines” outline what types of gun owners users should be concerned with, in addition to making political jabs at the U.S. Congress, the National Rifle Association, and varying degrees of gun owners.
The program gives users the option to mark homes, businesses and other locations with different designations that the app’s creators believe will increase public safety because, as its website states, “congress has left parents with so few options to protect their families from potentially dangerous gun owners that erring on the side of safety is highly advised.”
Gun owners fearful of a centralized gun-owner database may thank the University of California in San Diego along with the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil for the ingenious app, which can not only identify homes that are merely suspected of having guns, but can also note if those guns are loaded or not, and whether or not they may be locked in a safe.
According to the app’s guidelines, “unlocked, loaded or carelessly stored weapons should generally be treated with concern by friends, neighbors and visitors,” and should be marked.
Also, if you’ve recently just picked up your first firearm, you’re liable to be marked as a threat by someone. “First time gun owners or others who may not have not [sic] taken basic gun safety training, or who were not raised in a culture of gun safety, represent a real and present danger to their community, themselves and their family members,” the site states.
One way to gauge a potential gun owner threat, the site says, is to quiz owners on the four basic gun safety rules. “If a gun owner can not list these basic safety principles, or demonstrates a cavalier attitude toward gun safety, or becomes angry when you ask about it, then the location at which they store or use their guns should be marked as soon as it is feasible.”
As well as documenting a person who “frequently displays or brandishes weapons,” Gun Geo Marker users are encouraged to mark the homes of people “whose children speak frequently of their parent’s gun ownership, or who talk about guns as a potential tools [sic] for conflict resolution.”
“If your children or your child’s friends know of insecure weapons (unlocked, stored loaded, or potentially accessible to your children), then the location of these weapons should be marked and other actions (such as disallowing your children from playing at that home or with those kids) should be taken immediately.”
The guidelines ignore that children left home alone might be just as likely as their parents to have to defend themselves against a home invasion, and should therefore also be properly trained on how to safely access and handle firearms.
The app’s makers also encourage users to mark the homes of anyone who owns a firearm and speaks of “radical anti-government propaganda and/or representations of paranoid political beliefs,” as these folks may also be people who support terrorist organizations. “Bumper stickers or other public displays supporting gun ownership are not a problem, but when combined with radical anti-government propaganda and/or representations of paranoid political beliefs or support for terrorist organizations, these owners and their locations may well be worth marking.”
The site does advise, however, to refrain from being overzealous in one’s markings, such as redundantly marking gun-owners who have already identified themselves with bumper stickers. “Even if it is likely – and it is – that an NRA bumper sticker indicates that a gun is stored in the home, you might also notice that such owners have already self-identified to the public, and most certainly have nothing to hide. It may be redundant to place an electronic mark near their property when they are already marking themselves.”
Given the app’s controversial aim, its makers may soon see themselves engaged in a debate similar to that of the New York newspaper that published the homes of gun owners late last year. After the Journal News featured an online map designating which homes likely harbored firearms, bold criminals began targeting those homes, leading the newspaper to take down its map, claiming New York’s newly enacted gun control laws spurred the change, not public criticism.
While attempting to be fair to the rights of individuals protected under the Constitution, the app’s website also simultaneously denounces gun ownership as a “psychological need” for some and as a way to “express an identity or some sense of personal power or strength that may be otherwise be [sic] lacking.”
As much as the software’s developers claim safety as their motivation for creating the app, the truth is it’s just technology geared to promote distrust, fear and contempt among the general population, while at the same time attempting to demonize gun ownership.
Much like 1930-Germany’s official secret police, the Gestapo, relied on a large network of informers comprised largely of average citizens, the new app enlists average citizens to spy on one another, and encourages users to single out individuals who may not feel comfortable having their firearm ownership broadcast publicly.