Sunday, May 29, 2005

Fun With Media

There's been an on-going theme in the MSM that concealed carry owners sould have their names, addresses, phone numbers and probably underwear size published in local papers, because the public has a "right to know" who's carrying heat.

From this week's Carnival of Cordite, the weekly round-up of all things gunny, comes the current battle, this time from North Florida:
Our lead story this week is about the decision of the Northwest Florida Daily News to violate the privacy of many Floridians by publishing on the internet the names and addresses of Florida's concealed handgun permit holders. I first learned about this from The Hight Road where at least two seperate threads arose discussing the paper's action (here and here). The response was pretty quick. Within no time, many folks in the blogsphere and on the gun boards revealed for all to see the names and home addresses (in some cases with pictures and directions) of publisher Tom Conner and his editors. However, when I read the papers unbelieveable response to some complaints I got seriously ticked off:

"We published this public information because we believe there is public interest in knowing who in our area has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public. Also, it is a public record, and the people who have concealed weapon permits appear to know it's a public record. We didn't publish the list due to any political viewpoint. I personally believe strongly in the Second Amendment right to bear arms. I also believe the public has a right to know who is carrying loaded concealed weapons in public places.

I hope this serves as an adequate answer to your email."

In response, I named the Tom Conner Asshole of the Week and decided to do a little browsing around. Turns out, if you go to the web page for the local county courthouse you can find all sorts of things about him and his family. I initially thought about publishing his wife’s name, their social security numbers, stuff about their mortgage, and information on his kid and ex wife. However, after talking to a few people whose opinions I respect, I decided to simply post a link to the information. but by Friday morning, within a day of it coming out that ALL THAT information was available, they had decided to pull down the list.
I like this. It being an information society and all, let's make sure we use all the resources available to us. Whenever a media outlet publishes the names and addresses of CCW carriers, let's make sure that the newspaper/television stations/whatever list of employees, including names and addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addressess, any court cases in the past and pending, etc. — all part of the great sainted "public record" they love to quote — are made available on the Internet for anyone to use.

I think we (the public) have a right to know if a reporter defaulted on a car loan, or is behind in child support payments, or has a history of not paying his or her parking tickets. I think we (the public) have a right to know editors' addresses (including maps and sat photos!), whether their children are in private school and the cost of such schooling, how much they pay each month in car payments. Hey, it's all part of the public record!

Drinking problems? Drug problems? Divorces? Complaints from neighbors? Restraining orders?

This is an ugly game, and it shouldn't be played at all. But if the MSM decide to play it, let them do so at their own risk.

BTW, I once sent a reporter for a major California newspaper an invitation to a shooting event. I got an immediate call back, not because she wanted to attend, but because she wanted to know "off what list" I got her name and e-mail address, because she was prepared to take legal action against me to make sure I NEVER sent her another piece of gun-related e-mail! Who the hell did I think I was sending her an invitation to her PRIVATE E-MAIL ADDRESS?!? I, of course, referred her to her newspaper's website, where they had her name, phone number and e-mail address listed, along with a note from the newspaper's editor saying how much his reporters "loved" to be contacted and how important it was that his reporters be "accessible." She, being accessible and all, hung up on me.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Bane,
I work for a large media company. Please do not assume we all share Mr. Conners views. Yes, it is public record but I don't see the value to the public that he or his staff served in making list of CCW carriers available. A more valuable story would have been a list of known felons in these three counties who have been released early, especially if guns were involved in their crimes. Or perhaps a good feature story would be a map of all the known sex offenders showing how close they live to schools and daycares and the last time the law has checked on the addresses they registered under. I agree with your "Asshole of the Week" assessment and I would like to nominate him for Asshole of the Year.

Thank you

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