A new Android app asks users to expose the home addresses of gun owners they deem “potentially unsafe” -- and share that information with the world.
The Gun Geo Marker app, released to Google’s Play app store on July 7, invites users to mark the homes and businesses of “suspected unsafe gun owners … to help others in the area learn about their geography of risk from gun accidents or violence. "The app bills itself as merely a tool to collect information, but it was hit with a firestorm of negative reviews and comments from people worried that it could do more harm than good.
'This kind of reaction ... aids and abets the crisis of child shooting deaths.'
- Brett Stalbaum, developer of Gun Geo Marker app
“This is dangerous and invasive,” wrote Levi Russell in a review of the app. “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.”
"Major violation of privacy,” wrote Danielle Sigman in another review, one of more than 700 one-star reviews of the app. “Could cause a lot of safety issues for non-gun owners.”
Brett Stalbaum, the developer of Gun Geo Marker and a lecturer with the Visual Arts department of the University of California, San Diego, said he had received threats over the app.
"The gun rights community has been busy making personal threats (we remain unconcerned), as well as spamming the Gun Geo Marker database with false markers," he exclusively told FoxNews.com. "Though these fake markers are not useful for identifying dangerous guns and owners, they are certainly representative of the highly paranoid reaction we have come to expect from any attempt to improve gun safety in the United States.
"This kind of reaction -- automatically lining up on the wrong side of reasonable measures to improve the safe use and ownership of guns -- aids and abets the crisis of child shooting deaths," he said.
In January, a similar outcry arose after a New York newspaper published the home addresses of area residents with permits to own guns. After threats were called into their offices and the home addresses of editors posted online, The Journal News took down the data.
Whether an app or online, publishing the addresses of gun owners is a risky proposition, experts warn.
“This makes those who don't have guns an easier target for criminals. It’s a safety issue,” John Lott, gun expert and author of the book "More Guns, Less Crime," told FoxNews.com.
“I’ve debated a lot of gun control advocates over the years, and I’ve never met someone who has been willing to put up a sign in front of their house indicating that their home is a gun-free zone,” he said.
Google tells FoxNews.com they do not comment on individual apps, but said to refer to their Google Play developer program policies for apps that are not allowed.
The policy says Google Play does not allow content that contains violence or hate speech, bullying or illegal activities, among others. Gun Geo Marker is not available on the iPhone.
"As a gun owner myself, I want to see our rights preserved, and thwarting the will of 90 percent of the American people who want common sense, constitutional measures to improve gun safety is mathematically unwise," Stalbaum said.
Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.