Cleveland Plain Dealer fulfills promise to violate privacy of CHL-holders
On January 15, 2004 Cleveland Plain Dealer Editor Doug Clifton stated the following in his very first weblog:
- "The "how to reach us" box on 2A lists e-mail addresses and phone numbers for senior editors and similar information appears at the bottom of every staff produced story. Those devices make the communication more personal and more immediate. Some times it's so personal and so immediate you can feel its heat. In the last week or so most of the heat was generated by gun rights advocates who took exception to our announced intent to publish the names of those licensed to carry a concealed weapon."
Despite the "heat" generated, the Plain Dealer has followed through on its promise to violate the privacy of thousands of people who have broken no laws, violated no other persons' rights, and who simply wish to exercise their constitutional right to self-defense.
Ohioans For Concealed Carry has learned that the editors of the Cleveland Plain Dealer have begun publishing a names of concealed handgun license-holders in Cuyahoga Co. and five surrounding counties. Three counties, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga & Erie, were published today, and three more will be published tomorrow.
Four other newspapers have already published such lists - one of which is now under investigation for having published information protected by the law, a felony. The Plain Dealer is the first to publish the lists online.
The Plain Dealer was one of the first to publish its intention to abuse the media access privilege, granted after Gov. Taft insisted that reporters could act as a check and a balance to insure that licenses were being issued appropriately.
- January 9: "Since Taft chooses to hide behind journalists on this vital public-records matter, it is this newspaper's intention to obtain this information and publish it. Our readers deserve to know the identities of those who obtain permits to carry their guns in public. We hope other news organizations will do the same in their communities."
January 12: "This little showdown came about because one of the new law's provisions prohibits the general public that would be you from finding out who is purchasing a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Only journalists are allowed that information. So, that is exactly what we intend to do. We will find out who bought the permits to carry concealed weapons and then let you know, too."
The editor of the Cleveland believes in open records. Thus he should certainly have no problem with OFCC publishing his home address and telephone number:
19 Shoreby Dr.
Cleveland, OH 44108-1161
Tel.: (216) 761-6577
For a map to his half-million dollar home, click here.
Clifton paid $550,000 for the house in 1999. He and his wife Peg reside there.
According to his bio at the National Center for the Courts and Media, Clifton is originally from Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Dowling College in Long Island, with a political science degree. He and Peg have two adult children and two grandchildren.
Rep. James Aslanides (R-Coshocton), the bill's sponsor, said in conference committee and during a short floor speech that he would lead an effort to roll back the media access if the "privilege" is abused.
"If they abuse the privilege, we can cause them to lose the privilege," he declared, pointing out that the Pennsylvania Legislature struck a similar provision after a newspaper published a list of permit holders.
Sen. Steve Austria seconded this warning, adding that publishing the names of license-holders would be the exact kind of abuse they're referring to, since publishing these names would threaten the safety of the very men and women who have chosen to bear arms for self-defense.
"I don't think we need to worry about journalists doing their job," state
Sen. Marc Dann, a Youngstown area Democrat, told Mr. Aslanides.
Rep. Aslanides has already expressed interest in modifying the law to correct this abuse. Sens. Austria and Dann have not, as far as we are aware, provided public comment in the wake of these newspapers' actions. All three men are up for re-election this November.
It is time, honorable legislators - it is past time.
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