A recent, tragic shooting in New Jersey, a Federal Judge’s son killed on the family’s doorstep, her husband hospitalized with multiple gunshots. The Judge believes she was the shooter’s targeted victim because of her position on the bench. The Judge, was uninjured.
Yesterday, Judge Esther Salas went on television and broadcast a desperate plea, asking those in power to do something to help those on the bench keep themselves and their families safe from individuals meaning to do them harm. She spoke about the “free-flow” of personal information, including home addresses of Federal Judges, that’s available on the internet, information that those seeking to do harm can easily access and then use in a malicious or in this case, deadly manner.
Judge Salas asked for a “national conversation”, not only to protect Judges, but their loved ones as well.
Her plea for protection is not so very different than the pleas of registrants and their families who have for years, been asking that the registry, a government sanctioned accessible “hit list” which provides names, addresses and other personal identifiers of registrants, be dismantled or accessible to law enforcement only.
Registrants and their family members have been killed, often on their own doorstep, by vigilantes or mentally unstable individuals who located their addresses on the internet. Mothers and fathers of registrants have had to experience the same tragedy as Judge Salas, having to bury their child or some other family member, gunned down by someone with a grudge, while merely answering their front door.
The shooter in Judge Salas’ case also had in his possession, a “list” of other Judges, other possible future targets, just as gunmen of registrants have been found to have “lists and addresses” of other registrants.
Neither the Judge and her family, nor those on the registry and their families deserve for these kinds of deadly attacks to occur. No family should ever have to experience the pain of losing a loved one to this kind of senseless violence. No one should have to live in fear of violence because their personal information is easily accessible to anyone with the click of a mouse.
We do need a national dialogue and we need those in power to do something to protect us, all of us, not only Federal Judges and their families but registrants and their families as well.
We have sought protection from the dangers of the registry for too long already. We’ve voiced our concerns regarding the hazards of a public registry and we’ve watched as deaths continue to occur when addresses of registrants are publicly accessible. Those in power have so far turned a deaf ear towards our pleas. Will they listen to Judge Salas’ plea for protection of those on the bench? And if they do, how will they justify ignoring the same plea for protection from registrants and their families?
We all need and deserve protection from those meaning to do us harm and as Judge Salas stated, “right now, there’s nothing we can do to stop this and that’s unacceptable.”
So, is there a way to stop the “free-flow” of personal information available on the internet?
At this stage of the game, that seems highly doubtful, but taking down the public registry, that would certainly be a step in the right direction.