July 12, 2013
New Android App Pinpoints Homes and Businesses of Gun Owners
By Ben Romans
A new Android app released on Google Play’s online store allows users to add detailed locations of possible gun owners or gun-owning businesses to a map database, and is already drawing a lot of fire.
Once sites are geolocated, they can be shared with the world. Why? To supposedly let users of the app locate “risks” in their neighborhood—risks the app’s creator says could include homes and businesses of suspected unsafe gun owners, unsafe public lands, or where rights to own or use a particular firearm don’t exist.
The Gun Geo Marker App made its debut on July 7. As of this morning, the app has been downloaded more than 2,000 times, though most users are rating it one out of five stars. A headline across the app’s download page says “Geolocate Dangerous Guns and Owners with the Gun Geo Marker,” with the following description:
Geolocation means marking dangerous sites on the App's map so that you and others can 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. 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.
Electronically marking these locations can help others in the area learn about their geography of risk from gun accidents or violence. No matter what your safety concern with firearms might be, you should feel free to use this tool to provide the most accurate information you can such that others can make their own safety decisions.
The comment field on the same page is already being bombarded by negative reviews. Some say the app is an invasion of privacy, others say it’s making it easy for criminals to find potentially unarmed homes and businesses, or homes from which firearms could be stolen.
Compounding the issue is the fact that there is no way for anyone to check the veracity of any entries. In an interview with Fox News, Brett Stalbaum, developer of the app, said he remains unconcerned.
“The gun rights community has been busy making personal threats (we remain unconcerned), as well as spamming the Gun Geo Marker database with false markers,” he told FoxNews.com. “Though these fake markers are not useful for identifying dangerous guns and owners, they are certainly representative of the highly paranoid reaction we have come to expect from any attempt to improve gun safety in the United States. This kind of reaction—automatically lining up on the wrong side of reasonable measures to improve the safe use and ownership of guns—aids and abets the crisis of child shooting deaths,” he said.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has released a new “where to shoot” app that helps sportsman locate the nearest shooting range. Available for free for android or Apple smartphones, the app also includes video tips, news, and firearms safety information. Android phone users can download the app at www.wheretoshoot.org/android and iPhone and iPad users can go to www.wheretoshoot.org/iOS.