Content Director Revealed Newspaper Company Plan To Build Concealed Carry Database

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A media company that owns dozens of newspapers in 12 States “considered” creating private “state-by-state databases” tracking “those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon” as part of its strategy to report on “the explosion of ‘conceal and carry’ gun permits” across the Nation.

Civitas Media is a newspaper conglomerate that operates 88 newspapers. A confidential source within the company leaked an internal email that mentioned the plan to the Ohio-based Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA).

In a blog post built at 8 a.m. Friday, BFA spilled the beans about Civitas Media’s plan.

Content Director Jim Lawitz sent the email on Jan. 19 to “All Content Directors,” “All Content Producers” and “All Content Producers” at Civitas’ regional newspapers. BFA contacted some of those newspapers; no one would comment.

After all the hoopla stemming from BFA’s report, Civitas Media CEO Michael C. Bush issued a statement, which was on the company’s website by mid-afternoon Friday:

Civitas Media never had any plans or intentions of publishing in print or online lists of holders of “conceal and carry” permits. Nor will Civitas Media develop databases of permit holders. A poorly crafted internal memo meant to highlight editorial discussions and planning incorrectly indicated that such a database was being planned; it has been considered and rejected.

But that isn’t what the email indicates. See it for yourself. The first paragraph under the heading is the relevant one:

civitas-email

Several online commenters pointed out that “those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon” is perverse phrasing for a universal, natural right that the 2nd Amendment simply codifies as a safeguard to protect citizens from tyranny.

The company likely would have been met with varying degrees of success, depending on the public records laws in State where requests were filed. As BFA pointed out, its home State of Ohio has a rocky history of protecting the privacy of lawful gun owners with laws. The organization even struck back against another newspaper, the Sandusky Register — which in 2007 published a list of more than 2,600 Ohio concealed handgun license holders — by making public similar information about that paper’s managing editor:

In response, Buckeye Firearms Association decided to use truly publicly-available records to obtain information about [managing editor] Matt Westerhold and publish that information, which included his address and photos of his home, a description of his vehicle and license plate number, (which he had been driving when he committed a recent traffic offense). Later, in an article entitled “What is the harm in publishing lists of concealed handgun license holders?,” we used Westerhold as a case study to show how a person can use public records to obtain information that could be used by someone with intent to do harm. We obtained (but did not republish in its entirety even though it was acquired through public record) his birth date, social security number, and even the name of his then-pre-teen child. We pointed out that from the information we gathered though public record it would have been easy for a criminal to determine where the child went to school, what bus the child rode on, etc.

In short, our point is and always has been that THE ONLY USE FOR THESE LISTS IS TO TARGET AND VICTIMIZE GUN OWNERS.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.