Gun Marking Guidelines

Gun marking guidelines

The general guideline is that you should mark any location about which you have a gun related concern, while trying to provide enough extra information for others to make their own determination about safety.

An important secondary warning is that the Walkingtools Gun Geo Marker is not intended as a reporting mechanism for active threats. If you are concerned for anyone’s immediate safety, call 911 immediately.

Users submit data (crowd sourcing) about dangerous gun and owner sites.

Users submit data (crowd sourcing) about dangerous gun related locations. The Gun Geo Marker UI allows users to select from danger categories and provide extra contextual information.

First and foremost it is important to understand that in the United States, citizens have a constitutional right to own firearms. While this right is subject to many different laws and zoning regulations that vary greatly by state and locality, your use of the Walkingtools Gun Geo Marker should always be guided by your understanding of the second amendment to the United States Constitution. While no set of guidelines can possibly address every situation, there are a number of things you should consider before electronically marking an unsafe location. The following guidelines, always with a particular attention to your own personal safety and local circumstances, should be taken into consideration before using the software.

What the Gun Geo Marker Mark 1 is NOT intended for

The App is explicitly not designed for and can not be used for marking people. It is explicitly for marking locations where a gun related danger might exist.

Places you might want to mark with the Walkingtools Gun Geo Marker

There will naturally be some uncertainty about whether any particular location actually represents an unsafe gun situation, and again, the general guideline is that you should only mark locations about which you have a gun related concern, while trying to provide enough extra information for others to make their own determination about safety. It is important to remain clear headed about your assessment and avoid misunderstandings. Users of the Walkingtools Gun Geo Marker Mark 1 hold the responsibility for the quality of the information the system presents (while remaining anonymous), so try to be as clear about your concerns as possible.

unlocked/loaded/unsafe storage

Note that while unlocked and loaded firearms can be safe in certain situations (for example, in a home with no children), studies do show conclusively that guns in the home greatly increase the chances of death by gunfire for the owner, family members and visitors. This is especially sad in the case of guns that are left unlocked, unsecured and loaded when children are present. We have witnessed too many, indeed reported with tragic regularity, injuries and deaths of children due to irresponsible storage. Note that the United States Supreme Court has ruled that owning a gun for personal safety is a right protected by the second amendment, that much is settled law. But unlocked, loaded or carelessly stored weapons should generally be treated with the highest concern by friends, neighbors and visitors aware of locations where children might access firearms in an unsupervised manner. Not to mention, by the parents whose children might play at such locations. Teach your kids that if they see a firearm they should never touch it, and that they should tell you or another adult about it immediately.

insufficient safety or training

The Gun Geo Marker UI

The Gun Geo Marker UI shows nearby gun danger sites reported by users.

First time gun owners or others who may not have not taken basic gun safety training, or who were not raised in a culture of gun safety, might use guns in an unsafe way at certain locations that might be worth marking. Bear in mind that that such people are most often well meaning, thus as a concerned neighbor you might very well be able to educate them and therefore avoid marking the location where they are using guns unsafely. (A neighbor did exactly this kind of solid for me when I first discovered the joys of gun ownership. The responsibilities of gun ownership are not necessarily transparent, and excellent gun owners are actively engaged in educating the public about their safe use.) A simple conversation might be better than marking an informal range or the like. Teach novice gun owners the basics of gun safety:

  1. A gun should always be treated as if it is loaded
  2. The muzzle should never be pointed at anything not to be killed or destroyed
  3. Fingers are to stay outside of the trigger guard except when firing
  4. Maintain awareness of the target and what is down range from the target

If a gun owner can not list these basic safety principles, or demonstrates a cavalier attitude toward gun safety, or becomes angry when you ask about it, then the locations where they enjoy the activity, or other sites of irresponsible behavior, should be marked.

There are many locations, such as remote public or private lands where the discharge of firearms is legal. If you frequent such a location, you are likely a gun owner yourself and moreover, you probably have a strong interest in maintaining high safety standards at these sites. (Gun owners know that the better they police safety within their own communities of practice, the better the situation becomes for themselves and gun owners in general.) If you observe a place where a general culture of gun usage that runs counter to the principles of firearms safety, mark the site as “Other” and explain why. The Gun Geo Marker Mark 1 should serve safety generally, including that of recreational gun owners.

frequent unlawful discharge

Obviously, you should report unlawful discharge of firearms to the authorities if it presents a immediate danger. But open spaces where gun fire is not legally sanctioned (parks, places too close to occupied buildings) are sometimes used mistakenly for recreational shooting. If you notice or know of such a site, marking it may assist in producing a better local understanding of where it is and is not OK to shoot. The Gun Geo Marker Mark 1 project also endorses the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s excellent App, Where to Shoot. Check it out.

illegal firearms

This should prove to be both a rare mark, and a no-brainer. The possession of illegal firearms is a serious federal crime. If you are in a situation where anonymity is important, maybe the Gun Geo Marker Mark 1 provides you some privacy, or an alternative to confrontation, or to speaking with law enforcement.

anti-government/terror threat

If you see something, say something. If you are in a situation where anonymity is important, maybe the Gun Geo Marker Mark 1 provides you some privacy, or an alternative. But it would be much better to report to local, state or federal authorities.

People who stockpile large arsenals or numerous assault weapons for reasons other than collecting are possibly a concern. Bumper stickers or other public displays supporting gun ownership are not a problem at all, but when combined with radical anti-government propaganda and/or representations of paranoid political or religious beliefs, racism, or support for terrorist organizations, the locations of such arsenals may well be worth marking.

Other concern (describe)

There are a number of cases in which a decision about whether or not to mark the location is much less obvious. Again, such places may or may not be of concern, and your decision may relate to how “out of place” or unstable the situation feels. Another very uncertain situation can relate to the impaired use of firearms. Any locations related to gun use where substance abuse or other medical condition might alter the safety of the environment may well be worth marking. In any case where uncertainty is involved, we recommend making a decision based on your carefully considered perception of the actual risk at hand. If you do mark such locations, try to provide clear reasons why you are concerned so that others can make an informed decision about the risk.

Providing Useful Context

The local context of site marking is very important to other users who might view the marker you have placed. In as few words as possible (limited to 140 characters), you can provide some extra information that would be relevant to the local community.

Note that the context of any particular location changes over time. The locations you mark will automatically disappear from the database after an undisclosed amount of time. If you notice that a site you have marked is no longer marked, this is simply because it has been cleaned up automatically. If the site is still a problem, you are welcome to re-enter your information as you deem necessary.

The last words are the first words

If enough members of your community take the time to organize to mark and share dangerous locations, then this crowd-sourced data may serve to save a life or perhaps even influence national policy. Many hardworking parents and busy community members have nothing more available to them to easily and anonymously increase safety within their own neighborhoods. The Gun Geo Marker Mark 1 is a project to see if there are such communities of interest.

The general guideline is that you should mark any location about which you have a gun related concern, while trying to provide enough extra information for others to make their own determination about safety.