In a follow-up to last Thursday’s “They mostly seem like ordinary folks” piece on the decision by California’s North Coast Journal to publish the names of CCW permit holders in Humboldt County (and the associated “They seem so normal!” story), we have a post at CalGuns (h/t to reader John):
I just received a call from HANK SIMS, the editor of the North Coast Journal (707) 826-2004. It came across my Caller ID, so it MUST be “public Information”
He wanted to verify that I had indeed submitted a “Letter to the Editor” online (not comments to the article, but an actual letter submission which I assume they have printed, or may print.)
The conversation started out pleasantly, but quickly turned into a heated debate. I told him that he should be able to glean from the 137+ NEGATIVE comments about posting the names of CCW holders, that it was the wrong thing to do. He refused to see it that way.
He told me that MY reading of the public information act, that the info is there for anyone who wants to go get it but purposefully publishing it from a data fishing expedition is wrong, is flawed. He saw NOTHING wrong with compiling the list of CCW holder names and publishing them on the front page. His defense? He didn’t publish their addresses or anything potentially damaging!
He said that the names alone give no usable information, but I told him that from Heidi Walters’ name ALONE, I have her PO Box mailing address, former residential addresses, work history, DOB, husband’s name, EX-husband’s name, the names of their current and former neighbors and a lot of other “public information” I have been able to gather by simply surfing the net. I haven’t even bothered to find out what car she drives, the names of her children if any and so forth. I have more important things to do, but I darned sure could find out a lot more with little effort.
So, needless to say, editor Hank Sims [(707) 826-2004], has gotten an ear- and an inbox-full of irate mail from gun owners. In fact, AAN, the “Association of Alternative Newsweeklies” has discovered our interest:
North Coast Journal Story on Weapons Permits Causes a Stir
The Humboldt County alt-weekly provoked an angry response last week with a cover story revealing the names of citizens who have permits to carry concealed weapons in the county. The cover illustration of a handgun was composed of names supplied by the county sheriff’s office of 641 individuals holding such a permit. The story has caused an “internet shitstorm,” editor Hank Sims tells AAN News, as evidenced by the comments on the story itself and various online forums and blogs. Sims notes that the reaction online has been much harsher than his face-to-face encounters. “A number of local people called or came into the office last week a little bit angry, wondering how we got their name or why we should be allowed to publish the list. They were all very cool, and I had some great conversations,” he says. “These out-of-town internet dudes are another matter.”
THR, Calguns, and this blog were linked in the blurb. Interestingly, the report was credited to “AAN News.” I guess whoever was responsible for actually typing the words didn’t want to risk an “internet shitstorm” themselves.
You know, it’s remarkable that the local response has been so low-key, seeing as how gun owners and especially CCW permit holders only appear to be ordinary folks. But journalists know that, deep down, they’re really bloodthirsty killers who need to be exposed! It’s only with the anonymity of the Internet (yeah, I’m anonymous as hell) that our true bloodthirstyness can be released!
In the form of harshly-worded missives!
I am, once again, reminded of the words of Dr. Michael S. Brown. We’re tired of the decades-long slow motion hate crime against guns and gun owners. This is another piece of evidence that we’re not taking it quietly anymore.