The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

2 August 2004

A matter of record

Cast your threats upon the water, and they shall come back and soak your shoes.

Doug Clifton, editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, thought it would be a really neat idea to publish the names and addresses of everyone in northern Ohio who had been issued a concealed-carry permit. His explanation:

We were able to do so because the state legislature, bowing to Gov. Bob Taft's threat to veto a bill with no public access provision at all, gave the news media access to the list. The general public is not allowed to see it.

From the start, The Plain Dealer opposed that media-only provision, and so did most news organizations. We don't believe the media should have access to records that the general public is denied.

And, like the governor and millions of others across the country, we believe licensure information of all kinds should be open to public view.

Persuaded as I am that information about gun owners should not be compiled into any sort of database at all — what's to stop a crook from stealing their weapons one at a time, or a politician from stealing them en masse? — putting these records into play is simply reprehensible.

The advocacy group Ohioans for Concealed Carry responded by publishing Clifton's name and address and other details which could be easily found online. Clifton, of course, was not happy with this development:

The posting, I gather, had two purposes. The first was to say "turnabout is fair play": Public records are public records, and you're not exempt.

The second was to intimidate. Why else run a map?

Said OFCC:

[W]e simply hope to see if Mr. Clifton is as big a believer in open access to public records as he claims.

I'd say they got their answer.

And further, says OFCC, noting that four other Ohio papers had printed similar lists:

[T]he media exception to the protection of these records should be removed immediately. These newspaper editors have proven they cannot handle the responsibility.

I have a feeling this story is a long way from being over.

(Via Ravenwood's Universe)

Posted at 9:28 AM to Political Science Fiction


Chaz,

We've had both Mr. Clifton and Ohioans for Concealed Carry on NRAnews.com. Very interesting comments from both sides. I think Mr. Clifton's reasoning behind publishing the names was "because we can, and the public has a right to know".

I also think you're correct... this story is a long way from being over. Look for the legislature to try and get rid of the media exemption next time it's in session.

Posted by: Cam at 12:19 PM on 2 August 2004

Hmmm....sounds vaguely familiar ("because I can"...)

The Plain Dealer is a dishrag extraordinaire. Clifton's reasoning is at the same time obtuse and full of crap. "Because he can" is a child's justification for everything he does; "because he felt the public had a right to know" is equally deceitful and insidious.His only reason for doing so was to further is own personal lagenda against gun ownership.

Posted by: Vickie at 12:36 PM on 2 August 2004

I don't have any problem with the "because I can" response, provided it's given by a dog who's just been asked why he licks his privates. From anyone else, it's torches-and-pitchforks time.

Posted by: McGehee at 3:30 PM on 2 August 2004

OMG McGehee I laughed for about seven minutes on you dog line.

Posted by: Vickie at 6:28 PM on 2 August 2004

your

Posted by: Vickie at 6:29 PM on 2 August 2004

;-)

Posted by: McGehee at 7:47 PM on 2 August 2004

Reminds me of my nine year old, and then he doesn't find it funny when they turn around and treat him the same way. The audacity of some people.

McGehee, you owe me a new keyboard. Dr Pepper and keyboards don't mix. Should know better than to drink while reading blogs by now, but then again thought this one was safe.

Posted by: anstranger at 3:51 AM on 3 August 2004