BELLEVUE, WA – An on-going attempt by the Associated Press to obtain the names of 1.3 million Illinois gun owners is nothing more than an effort to violate their privacy and expose them to possible harassment, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

CCRKBA is sponsoring a moving billboard in the Chicago region this week, and will be back in the Windy City on Friday, wrapping up its local tour. The billboard reminds the public that “Guns Save Lives.”

“Why should the Associated Press be allowed to publicize the names of Illinois gun owners,” questioned CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “Naturally, the Chicago Sun-Times has jumped on this bandwagon, arguing that disclosure of those names will help prevent criminals from getting access to firearms. Criminals already have guns, and the Sun-Times and Associated Press seem determined to point them to the homes of gun owners, where they can steal more, which is how most criminals get firearms in the first place.

“In reality,” he observed, “this looks like just one more attempt by the press to expose firearms owners to public scorn and ridicule, and possible victimization by the very criminals the press claims it wants to disarm.

“Perhaps we should allow public access to the names of former mental patients,” Gottlieb said, “or recovering alcoholics, especially if they serve in public office or work in the media. Maybe we should publish the names of known drug users, including any who use medical marijuana. How long before the press wants to identify child rape victims? Once you sacrifice the privacy rights of one social group, you jeopardize those rights for all.

“If we allow the privacy of firearms owners to be invaded,” he said, “we are opening the door to an insidious process that has no useful purpose, other than to generate sensationalism and maybe sell some newspapers, but at what cost to the individuals who are singled out? This amounts to nothing more than press voyeurism, and they know it. There is no legitimate public interest at stake here, and we encourage Illinois gun owners to call their state legislators to stop this nonsense by supporting legislation sponsored by Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) that will make these records private, as they should have been all along.”