Monday, March 12, 2007

Roanoke Newspaper Puts CCW Holders on the Web

Yesterday to the amazement of many Concealed Carry Permit holders in Virginia, a Roanoke Newspaper "The Roanoke Times", put all 130,000+ CCW holders up on the papers Web site for all the world to know about.

The Web site created a searchable database to make it easy to find all holders by last name or view all holders for a particular locality.

This is an example of the availability of a public record gone amok - these records were never intended for mass distribution, yet in Virginia a simple request to the state police and payment of a small fee, got them released on CDs, to this media outlet.

The intended purpose was to bring to light which neighbor or co-worker might be "packing" ...the kind of information the paper felt all Virginia's have a right to know about.

The author of this piece, Christian Trejbal, even suggests that Virginia should be the ones to publish the list just like they distribute the identities of convicted sex offenders.

Now that the list is on the Internet, it will be copied and posted elsewhere. The permit holders know that this information may be mis-used by;

- Criminals looking for the addresses where firearms may be available for stealing
- Employers looking to determine what staff member might be "packing"
- Neighbors who are just curious about the gun guy next door

In this world some people resent those who own, use and have the nerve to carry concealed handguns legally. These folks may use the information to discriminate against permit holders in social, political and work environments. This is unfortunate and in the case of employers poking about the database, could lead to actions against employees that impact their financial standing.

There are two key issues surfaced by this event.

1. Why are these records available for distribution to anybody? Shouldn't they be considered private records? Clearly legislation is required at the National and/or local level to fix this.

2. Why would a media outlet want to unleash this data on the Net?
Clearly to add to some notoriety for its authors and the newspaper to increase circulation!
But also, to continue a political agenda of trying to imply that citizens who legally posses handguns and have the approval of the State to carry those handguns are somehow suspect, and must cautiously be regarded as to the risk they pose in the larger society. This dovetails nicely with the larger cultural vision, of marginalizing gun owners in the society. Somehow 2% of Virginians who hold carry permits are too be considered "extremists" warranting scrutiny of the media, the public, and their neighbors (and criminals who care to notice).

The solution to the second issue cited is complicated. A indignant backlash by Permit holders would help. But only the combined power of firearm advocates will put a stop to this type of tactic. Legislation is the answer and lets proceed without delay.

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