When the Journal News in Westchester County, N.Y. published the names and addresses of gun permit holders in two counties recently, one of those citizens, Vincent R. Suppa of Yonkers, had a visceral reaction.
“I’m a sex offender now,” he told Examiner and The Gun Mag in an exclusive interview Thursday morning.
Of course, he isn't one, but that is certainly how the story made him feel.
Suppa, 30, is not married and he lives with his parents in the city where he grew up because, as he put it, “Times are tough.” He has an associate degree in criminal justice from Westchester Community College (2009) and a bachelor’s degree from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry (2011), but because of the poor economy he now works part time as a crossing guard, a job he relishes.
“It’s an important job,” he said in a telephone interview. “People respect me. They love the way I take care of the kids. I feel that it’s necessary. The streets get crowded and I have to help the kids across the street.”
By his own admission, he is a member in good standing of the National Rifle Association, and he may put off purchasing a new semiautomatic rifle this year because he now plans to contribute to NRA, the Second Amendment Foundation and other groups. It is one thing to be a gun owner involved in a “big picture” battle, but quite another to be singled out by a local newspaper, as a gun owner.
Yet he hasn’t committed any crime, he is not a public figure and it might be a stretch to consider this part-time crossing guard as a public official.
So, a man who helps protect children and others from being struck by cars as they walk to and from school or work, a man who is licensed in New York State not only to have a handgun but to also work in security and as an armed guard, is treated like a criminal by the local newspaper. That was not his first reaction to the Dec. 27 story that has now taken on a life of its own.
“At first,” he recalled, “I thought it was funny because I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to get home-invaded.’ But my mother said to me, ‘What if we’re out of the house and a criminal breaks in?’”
That’s when reality sank in. Suppa began thinking about the unintended consequences of revealing the names and addresses of thousands of citizens just like him, and he got angry. Not only did that story make gun owners, including police officers, vulnerable, but it also allows criminals to identify the homes of people who do not have firearms.
“What about women who are living alone (and don’t have a gun,” he questioned. “What if a rapist breaks in?”
And there is the aspect of home invasion robbery of residences not identified as being one where criminals might face a gun. He noted that in the neighborhood where he works, one could easily discern there are few homes where the residents appear to have guns. This might make things a bit dangerous for the unarmed citizens, he suggested, because of the violent nature of home invasions.
“A home invader is after blood,” Suppa said, “not money.”
Examiner tried to contact Journal News reporter Dwight R. Worley – author of the story that outed thousands of registered gun owners – for comment. Our call was not returned.
The Journal News story has been just one part of a larger anti-gun reaction to the Dec. 14 school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. While the newspaper had the legal right to publish what is currently information available to the public, public and professional response has been split.
Suppa has other concerns as a New York State gun owner. He is especially alarmed at the anti-gun campaign launched Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Down in Washington, D.C., Vice President Joe Biden was meeting with the National Rifle Association and other prop-gun interests at the same time Suppa was speaking with Examiner and The Gun Mag. This came after days of political saber rattling about gun control measures that include threats of a new ban on so-called “assault weapons” and magazines.
All of these things are on Vincent Suppa’s mind, but he is most concerned about issues close to home.
“The wording of that newspaper article was like, ‘these people are sex offenders’,” he said. “The newspaper has exposed everyone that owns a gun legally to a possible break in or home invasion.”
He added that gun owners in his community “are a little ticked off.” Judging by the reaction from the firearms community across the nation, they have a lot of company.
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