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.
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?
[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)