Associated Press botches initial coverage of Aslanides' firearms legislation

Despite advance warning and follow-up notice, writer refuses to correct errors

In the hours after we broke the story that Rep. Aslanides would be introducing a sweeping firearms law reform bill, Associated Press writer John McCarthy began making phone calls to prepare a story.

Early in his interview with Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine, it became obvious that McCarthy had not read the legislation. And unfortunately for McCarthy and wire service subscribers who published the story he prepared, the resulting factual errors begin not in the first paragraph, but in the headline itself.

We can't speak for other organizations contacted, but Irvine did point out to McCarthy that his understanding of how this legislation would change the media access loophole provision for CHL-holders was incorrect. Yet the AP decided to run the incorrect story:

    Bill would hide lists of gun permit-holders; governor opposed

    The Associated Press

Having read the bill with his own eyes, and again having confirmed with Rep. Aslanides' office that the legislation will not make the changes McCarthy reports in his story, Irvine contacted McCarthy again after his story ran. Thus far the writer is refusing any suggestion that he should issue a correction.

This is not the first time the Associated Press's Columbus office, and more specifically John McCarthy, has been contacted by leaders of this political action committee to point out glaring inaccuracies in his coverage of firearms-related issues. In fact, this story is only part of a long history of this AP writer providing slanted or even incorrect coverage on firearms issues, always notably slanting the mistakes to the benefit of the anti-gun side.

Following is an analysis of this issue by Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair Ken Hanson.

By Ken Hanson

We here at Buckeye Firearms were "thrilled" to see Ohio Associated Press correspondent John McCarthy weigh in with another of his "objective" pieces on Ohio concealed carry law. The only difference between this article and past hack jobs was that the factual inaccuracies began in the headlines.

McCarthy, and really the entire Ohio AP staff, have a habit of getting things wrong - things that if accurately reported could be construed to be good for gun owners and bad for their own beliefs.

With every new incident, some might begin to question whether these are truly "mistakes." For instance, consider this from his article on the first quarter of legal self defense in Ohio.

    Despite low turnout, sponsor won't tinker with it yet

    By John McCarthy
    The Associated Press

    COLUMBUS - The state's concealed weapons law has not produced the number of applications that backers envisioned, but it's too soon be tinkering with it, the bill's sponsor said Tuesday.

    Ohio's 88 county sheriffs, who issue the permits, have given out about 22,000 applications since the law took effect on April 8, said Robert Cornwell, executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association. That's about half as many as backers had predicted by this point.

Reading this coverage, you’d think the program was a failure, despite the fact that it was the most utilized consumer protection legislation in Ohio since the "do not call" registry.

When the one year anniversary of Ohio's concealed carry law rolled around, the Ohio AP took the opportunity not to focus on the people who have used guns in self defense, or on the lack of problems that had been predicted in quotes they published before the law took effect, but instead to revisit their anti-gun mantra. The AP headline that day says it all:

    Permit numbers lower than expected

Other examples of obvious bias at the Columbus office of the Associated Press include the Ohio AP awarding the Cleveland Plain Dealer their annual First (the one right before the Second) Amendment Award. In making this award, the Ohio AP cited the PD’s wonderful "public service" of publishing law-abiding CHL-holder lists in their newspaper.

So, against this backdrop, it is no surprise the McCarthy "accidentally" got it wrong again with his coverage on the CHL cleanup portion of the legislation announced yesterday.

    Bill would hide lists of gun permit-holders; governor opposed

    The Associated Press

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The media would lose access to lists of concealed-weapons permit-holders and could only check with sheriffs for specific names under a bill to be introduced in the Ohio House next week, its sponsor said Wednesday.

His article goes on to quote his buddy Frank Deaner of the Ohio Newspaper Association (the fox guarding the public records hen-house).

    The change would take transparency from the bill and would deny the public the chance to know if sheriffs are properly following the permitting process, said Frank Deaner, a lobbyist for the Ohio Newspaper Association.

    "Who knows? Over time, there might be a sheriff who's taking care of particular friends, a pattern to who is getting permits and who is not," Deaner said. "This item in the law is not just a public records item, it's a public safety item."

Man, it would have been handy to have Frank around when Shelby County Sheriff O’Leary committed a felony by allowing one of Frank’s member papers to obtain and publish the addresses of every permit holder that had passed through his office. We need more unbiased public safety watchdogs like Frank.

Of course, if you have taken the time to read the bill, you know it does nothing of the sort.

    (Existing law in plain text, Aslanides' new proposed language is underlined.)

    Sec. 2923.129 (B)(2)(a)

    (2) Upon a written request made to a sheriff and signed by a journalist on or after April 8, 2004, except as provided in division (B)(2)(b) of this section, the sheriff shall disclose to the journalist the name, county of residence, and date of birth of each person to whom the sheriff has issued a license or replacement license to carry a concealed handgun....

    Sec. 2923.129 (B)(2)(b)

    A sheriff...shall not disclose the name, county or residence, or date of birth of a particular person to whom the sheriff has issued any such license or replacement license if, at any time prior to the journalist's making of the request prescribed in division (B)(2)(a) of this section, that person has filed with the sheriff either a statement sworn by the person that is made under threat of perjury and that states that the person has reasonable cause to fear criminal attack upon the person or a member of the person's family if the information is disclosed to a journalist or the general public or a written document prepared by a governmental entity or public official describing the facts that give the person reasonable cause to fear a criminal upon the person or a member of the person's family if the information is disclosed to a journalist or the general public...

It is clear from this proposed language that the media access loophole remains, but this new language would ensure that people with reason to fear for their lives may "opt out" of the public disclosure of their confidential information. Nothing more, nothing less. And again, while we can't speak for other organizations he contacted, we can say for sure that John McCarthy was informed by Jim Irvine of his error both before and after he ran his inaccurate story.

But when has accuracy ever stood in the way of the Ohio AP and their agenda?


John Lott’s famous studies further show that reporting bad news about guns in society isn’t limited to just AP reports but standard operating procedure for the establishment media.

As Professor Lott points out in his book, The Bias Against Guns, there is either a concerted effort to shape the gun debate by the establishment media or gross negligence on their part. Either way the fact remains that the establishment media through their one-sided reporting of the gun issue is making the news instead of simply reporting it.

Right now, supporters who donate $30 or more to the Buckeye Firearms Association no later than September 30, 2005 will receive a complimentary copy of Dr. Lott's latest book, The Bias Against Guns. Supplies are limited.

Click the book cover or this link to make an online donation. Please act now! Campaign season is a crucial time for this political action committee, and your help is needed.

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