Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Who will guard the guardians?)
In a recent editorial, the Sandusky Register argued that ALL government information should be public and appears to support the idea that government shouldn’t be able to keep some information private. This argument is a red herring, designed to mask an anti-gun political agenda that involves targeting citizens who have a legal concealed handgun license (CHL) by publishing their name, age, and county of residence.
Government makes decisions all the time to keep government information private if there is a chance that publishing that information could harm citizens. For example, a Social Security Number is government information, but it is kept private to avoid identity theft. Those who have obtained a restraining order from a government entity, such as a court, are not subjected to having a new address or phone number published in order to protect the victim.
The argument for open government records is the public’s “need to know.” But the public has no need to know when it comes to legally concealed weapons by law abiding citizens. And since there is a precedent for protecting citizens by keeping certain information private, there is no reason to publish this information in a newspaper.
But since the Sandusky Register argues that ALL government information should be public, and that this information is fair game for publication, it is time to put this theory to the test.
Buckeye Firearms Association has decided to use publicly available records to obtain information about Matt Westerhold, the editor of the Sandusky Register, and publish that information. We are not doing this to be vindictive, but instead seek to draw attention to the real issues - namely how easy it is for an editor with a grudge to abuse public records, and how one Consitutional right is being treated far differently in Ohio from all others.
Certain members of Ohio’s Main Stream Media (MSM), including Register Editor Matt Westerhold, have appointed themselves sole guardians of Ohio’s Public Records, unilaterally using their bully-pulpit to decide what is and what is not in the public’s interest.
These extremists are not content for government records to include those things that actually impact governmental operations, such as open meetings, open debate, advance notice of legislation and hearings, transparent spending and budgeting, access to documents and reports directly relied upon in the legislative and executive process. No - these guardians take the position that ANY piece of paper or electron that touches a governmental body is fair game (including names and home addresses of minors who attend public pools; names and home addresses of anyone who happens to work for the government, even those fleeing an abusive former spouse; and, of most interest to our readers, information on those who chose to exercise their statutory and Constitutional right to defend themselves by carrying a gun for defense).
If these self-appointed guardians cross the line between what is in the public interest and that which is abusive, who is it that takes the guardians to task? Who will guard the guardians of the records? The Ohio General Assembly has proven woefully unequal to the task. Not once, but twice.
Persons who have chosen to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense (CHL-holders) have done nothing to subject themselves to publication in “news”papers like the Sandusky Register. Let us be clear - this is NOT about publishing public records, (although there is a larger debate on what should and should not be a public record). This is about MSMs feeling that one fundamental, individual right is properly restrained, licensed, regulated and/or revoked while simultaneously chastising people for going through the process to exercise that right.
There logically is no difference in insisting that persons who wish to exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense need training and background checks, and that the MSM needs access to make sure the wrong people are not exercising the right, and saying that the state should train and license journalists so we can make sure they are not abusing the right. There is no logical division.
Taken to its logical conclusion, the Sandusky Register feels that the government should license those who preach on Sunday as well as those who editorialize on Monday. What about those who write their representatives for the redress of grievances, such as those inflicted on gun owners by Editor Westerhold? Should we publish lists of those who pray on Friday or multiple times per day while facing a certain geographic direction? Dare they suggest that those adults who obtain an abortion should get a license? Would Editor Westerhold be publishing a “just aborted” list? Why not? The fact is, newspapers would never publish a "these people prayed on Sunday" list, and people would be outraged to suggest that it should be done. The right to bear arms for self-defense is no different.
Public records belong to the true guardians - to you, the public. There is no abstract 4th branch of government, the MSM. And you, the public, through your elected representatives, have decided certain information, such as the personal information about those applying for and obtaining a CHL, should NOT BE MADE PUBLIC. Indeed, the CHL list is NOT A PUBLIC RECORD by statute, and no other exercise of a fundamental right is licensed or listed in the state of Ohio.
Only it doesn’t matter that you decided this, because Editor Westerhold does not agree with you, he thinks he knows better than you, and he has a newspaper at his disposal.
So we are putting his theory to the test. The government holds a wealth of information about Mr. Westerhold, including his home address, license plate information, and divorce records. All is government information, and thus, according to his argument, fair game for publication.
As a public service to our readers, we are in the process of packaging up a public records report on Editor Westerhold. We are currently weighing how much of the information to make public on our website. Here is a preview:
According to Public Records:
Editor Matt Westerhold, born on November **, 1958, owns 322 Deepwood Lane, Amherst, Ohio 44001. Matt purchased this house on April 28, 2005 for $124,900 and borrowed $123,920 from Union National Mortgage Company to finance the purchase.
It is not clear if Matt actually lives in this house, because he claims a residence in Sandusky, Ohio.
Interestingly, this picture (obtained, of course, from public record) appears to show Matt’s blue 2003 Chevy Tracker in the garage, license plate # DA*3816 (*redacted for privacy concerns). Matt was operating this vehicle on September 1, 2006 in Oberlin when the Ohio State Highway Patrol pulled him over for speeding. Matt was cited for failure to wear a seat belt and was warned about his speed.
It is unclear from the public records if his status as a member of the MSM played a role in the warning versus a citation for speed, and unlike concealed carry license holders, no quarterly reports are forwarded to the Attorney General on the number of MSMs who violate Ohio’s laws and/or have their driver’s license suspended or revoked.
In addition to the sharing of these public records, we feel it is our obligation to issue this call to political action:
- Contact your Senator and Representative today and demand that they immediately and permanently close the media access to those who exercise the right to self-defense. While you have them on the phone, ask that they establish a statutory cause of action for any license holder that is harmed by the media tipping off the criminals that they might be armed. Telephone communications are preferred over email. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Who will guard the guardians?) | Buckeye Firearms Associationhref="http://www.capwiz.com/nra/dbq/officials/directory/directory.dbq?command=statedir&state=OH" target="_blank">Click here to access House & Senate phone numbers. Click here to email your State Representatives & Senators.
- Cancel your subscription to The Sandusky Register. Call 1-800-466-1243 and ask for their circulation department. If you have a business that sells their paper, cancel your merchant account and ask that they stop bulk delivery or remove their machines from your property.
- Contact 5 gun owners (if you are reading this article on our website, use the Send to a Friend feature at right) and ask them to also perform steps 1, 2 and 3 above.
ALERT!! COMING SOON!! HOW THE SANDUSKY REGISTER USES A LOOPHOLE IN THE LAW TO HIRE AND SEND REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS TO YOUR DOOR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE!!
Please consider making a donation to Buckeye Firearms Association NOW to help us STOP
this inexcusable attack on your rights. We need your help in this battle as we prepare to implement our next steps.
Sandusky Register Editor Matt Westerhold Declares War on Gun Owner Privacy