One can only wonder if the fool at The Westchester Journal News who made the decision to publish the names and addresses of New York gun owners has ever heard the legal term, proximate cause? I’m sure the newspaper’s legal counsel has as well as the risk management people at their corporate headquarters, but the fool who actually pulled the plug? Here’s the Wikipedia definition:
In the law, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held to be the cause of that injury. There are two types of causation in the law: cause-in-fact, and proximate (or legal) cause. Cause-in-fact is determined by the “but for” test: But for the action, the result would not have happened. For example, but for running the red light, the collision would not have occurred. For an act to cause a harm, both tests must be met; proximate cause is a legal limitation on cause-in-fact.
May I submit that if a criminal seeking to steal guns breaks into any one of those homes whose address was published by the Journal News, any legal gunsel worth his salt will do his very best to tie the crime to the publication by the newspaper of the victim’s address. So, no big deal you say? Well picture this scenario: highly-paid, business executive type husband at home with three daughters while much lower paid wife is away on job-related travel; gun-seeking burglar breaks in, kills husband and one daughter before shooting other two daughters in the face, leaving them alive but permanently brain-damaged.
To a personal injury lawyer, that scenario is the sound of a big dollar slot machine that just keeps going and going. The damages to be demanded in a civil suit with such facts of the case are in the tens if not hundreds of millions. And guess who made it possible? BUT FOR those high-minded liberal folk at the Journal News who saw fit to put very private and personal information in their newspaper, nothing else could have led that murdering burglar directly to the targeted residence where he inflicted all that pain and suffering on folks who most likely would have lived out their lives peacefully, fruitfully and happily. Can the nosy newsies claim a defense that the information is all a matter of public record? Well, sure, they can and will try, but then you come back to that but for principle: would the lazy, murderous thug have been intelligent enough or resourceful enough to have uncovered that address, but for its publication in the newspaper?
So, was there proximate cause? Oh yeah, and you can bet there are lawyers combing that article for potential clients just to get them on retainer so that if any such, any such, unfortunate incident occurs, the legal beagle’s nose knows exactly which trail to follow to the very deep pockets of the multi-billion dollar corporate parent, Gannett Company, to seek justice and new-found wealth for his clients and fame and fortune for himself. That idiot editor at the Journal News may have just painted himself and his corporate masters right into the hottest liability corner in the history of newspaper publishing.
Crossposted at American Thinker