Gun Geo Marker App

Gun Owners Fire Back At Creator Of Gun Geo Marker – And Completely Miss The Mark

University of California, San Diego lecturer Brett Stalbaum has come under fire from gun owners recently for his Android app, Gun Geo Marker.  The app allows users to pin a map with the location and address of gun owners and share it with others.  A strong negative reaction from the gun rights community began with negative reviews of the app and quickly devolved into threats against Mr. Stalbaum.  Now, Stalbaum’s reputation, and perhaps future as a University lecturer, is under attack.

A sudden influx of negative reviews have been left on Mr. Stalbaum’s Rate My Professor  profile– a website that let’s ‘students’ leave anonymous reviews of their University professors and their courses – since the release of the Gun Geo Marker app.  Alone, some of the comments may seem like criticism – albeit harsh – from actual students.

“This professor was not very helpful or educated on the matters he teaches. I am not sure why he is in the position he is in, but the lack of insight is a disgrace to education.”

 

Others, however, appear slightly less legitimate.

“I tagged him with “Bad Professor” Geo marker app, to help other students be aware of how dangerous his poor teaching skills are.”

Reviews of Mr. Stalbaum's lectures.
Reviews of Mr. Stalbaum’s lectures.

Gun enthusiasts are well known for tenaciously defending their right to bear arms and feel that the app is an invasion of their privacy.  However, is this an appropriate reaction to the issue?  Doesn’t this make the gun owner’s guilty of exactly what they are up in arms about?  And what exactly is the issue?  Reviews of the actual app produce mixed results.

“Can only tag right where you are. Cannot scroll to see other areas. Can’t enter an address. Bad idea badly executed.” – review by Chris Padar.

This review seems to be more concerned with the quality of the features of the app.

This is dangerous and invasive…Dangerous because it allows criminals to determine where they might steal firearms….you are an accomplice to any firearm theft that will occur due to the existence of this app.” – Levi Russell in a review of the app.

This seems to be a valid concern.  The app may be be invasive and knowing the location of firearms could make it easier to steal them.  Unless the firearms are properly stored and locked, which – when not in use – every gun should be.  One could also argue that knowing a certain home owner is armed would make a criminal much less likely to target their residence.

“This app is ludicrous! Quit trying to make criminals out of law abiding citizens. You should be ashamed of yourself. I should make a map to mark dbags like you.” – Jeremy Nadeau’s  review.

This touches on the main theme in most of the reviews. The real issue here and a simple fact that most of the gun rights community is missing is the message.  Mr. Stalbaum is not trying to “make criminals out of law abiding citizens” like Jeremy Nadeau claims above.  Stalbaum is using the app and the uproar associated with it to raise awareness about responsible gun ownership.   The guidelines for marking locations on the app go into extensive detail on what to mark and what not to mark.  The outraged citizens simply neglect to read them.

“First and foremost it is important to understand that in the United States, citizens have a constitutional right to own firearms…In general, you should not worry about firearms owned by either hunters or gun enthusiasts who safely store and properly enjoy their weapons in the field, or at local firing ranges for recreational purposes. These are normally the people who have the highest level of commitment to gun safety, and abide by the laws regulating their hobby. The same holds true for most concealed carry permit holders, or other owners permitted and properly regulated.”

In fact, Stalbaum is a gun owner himself.  However, he – and a large portion of the United States – is concerned about gun owners that do not act responsibly, safely, or are engaged in illegal behavior. The guidelines go into further detail, explicitly outlining what users should be concerned about.  Things like: guns and unsupervised children, guns and substance abuse, documented/frequent unlawful discharge,  and possible illegal weapons on premises.

Now, the app is far from perfect, and it may indeed be an invasion of privacy. I believe, however, that was the point all along.  The idea of the app makes people uncomfortable and angry.  It just so happens that anger and fear help spread messages quickly and virally.  And no group responds to fear that their rights are being infringed upon faster and with more anger than than the gun rights community.  Can it be a coincidence that this app makes them feel that way?  Isn’t responsible gun ownership and gun safety a message worth spreading?

So, before you threaten, belittle, mock, or vilify Brett Stalbaum, consider this.  If his app’s message helps keep a gun away from one unsupervised child’, takes a gun out of one dangerous person’s hand, or removes one illegal firearm from your neighborhood; isn’t it worth it?

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2 thoughts on “Gun Owners Fire Back At Creator Of Gun Geo Marker – And Completely Miss The Mark”

  1. As much as I respect, and even agree with many of the points in your article. It is still slanted to your point of view, and lacks several key points. The two most glaring that I see are #1 Despite the “guidelines” explicitly outlined on what people should be tagging, you are relying on people to do the right and reasonable thing. In an issue this divided, people take a side and they decide for themselves what is right, as you just proved with your article. They will not follow the guidelines, they’ll do as they wish. #2 If what you say is true, and criminals are in fact deterred by the fact that guns are in a home (which is utter nonsense, it could POSSIBLY change the “when” of their robbery, but certainly still paints a target for criminals) then by contrast the app does something equally dangerous. It paints yet another target! The houses not marked are suddenly “harmless” and easy pickings. How is it removing illegal firearms from our neighborhoods, or keeping guns out of dangerous peoples hands? Are the police going to knock on every door marked in the app and check their guns? Wouldn’t that be the violation of privacy you essentially scoffed at? And let’s face it, they won’t. As for guns in children’s hands, well that’s the job of the responsible gun owner to keep from happening. If you’re that guy who leaves a loaded gun out, accessible to a child, well then you’ll be the guy who gets mad and rants to anyone who will listen about getting marked. But you still won’t be the guy who puts the gun away. Why? Same reason that guy left it there in the first place – who the heck knows! Fact is, all this app does is stir up the same political anger and animosity that started with trying to change the laws, but it solves nothing. People are too stupid, too angry, and/or too divided to even attempt to use this how it would need to be used to work as “advertised”.

  2. Tristan,

    You are completely right. The app itself will never actually remove an illegal firearm or keep an idiot from leaving them accessible to children. But, if the fervor that it stirs up helps push for better training and educational programs – which then leads to one gun owner acting more responsibly with his firearm – then it did what it set out to do.

    I, personally, don’t think that the app will ever be something a criminal would use to target homes, specifically because it is so flawed. This leads me to believe that it is more of a PR generation tool than an actual attempt to create a database.

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