Opinion

National newspaper chain plans state-by-state databases ‘outing’ gun owners

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Photo credit: www.securityclassmiami.com

A multi-state newspaper chain is taking the first steps to create “state-by-state databases” of concealed carry permit holders, according to a leaked internal company memo.

The idea was laid out in a Jan. 19 email from a senior Civitas Media editor to the newsrooms within its 11-state chain, according to Fox News.

The project “examines the explosion of ‘conceal and carry’ gun permits across the U.S.,” Jim Lawitz, Civitas’ director of content wrote in the email. “Through public records act requests, we will attempt to build state-by-state databases that list those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon.”

A confidential source within the company turned a copy of the email over to the Buckeye Firearms Association out of concern over what Civitas planned to do with the information.

Lawitz played down the email’s intent when contacted Friday by Fox News.

“In news organizations, a variety of ideas routinely are discussed, researched and planned, which may or may not result in published work,” Lawitz told Fox. “Typically we do not publicly comment on internal proprietary communication. However, we have no plans to publish any lists or databases of people’s names on conceal and carry.”

However, the scheme sounds eerily similar to that of a Long Island, N.Y. incident a year ago, in which the Gannett-owned Journal News obtained and published the names and addresses of all gun owners within a two-county area under the headline, “Where are the gun permits in your neighborhood?”

That incident ended badly for the Journal News. Gun owners were upset because they felt it was no one else’s business whether they owned a firearm or not. Non-gun owners were up in arms because they felt the information provided burglars with a roadmap to defenseless, easy-picking homes.

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Chad Baus, secretary of the Buckeye Firearms Association, sees the possibility of the same thing happening here — but on a grander scale.

“The goal is to raise awareness because each and every time a newspaper organization does this type of thing, the public reacts very strongly to it,” Baus said. “And yes, we do want it stopped. They’re saying they’re not going to publish the list, but once the list is compiled, what are they going to do with it?”

He’s afraid that once the newspaper chain compiles its databases, they would be used to “demonize gun owners,” he told Fox.

“There’s no other purpose for creating these lists but to target and victimize gun owners,” Baus added.

The Civitas Media newspaper chain manages 35 daily and 63 weekly publications, with a combined circulation of more than 1.6 million, according to the firm’s website.

Although Florida is not among the 11 states Civitas serves, there would be nothing to stop it from sending a Freedom of Information Act request to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which processes concealed weapons permits.

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