It's About Privacy (& the Sandusky Register Secretly Employing Sex Offenders)

By Ken Hanson

Sandusky Register Editor Matt Westerhold, apparently with a straight face, published an editorial today entitled “It’s about the secrets, not about the gun owners”. Apparently hoping we forgot his history at the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, where he attacked gun owners' privacy in similar fashion, Mr. Westerhold bemoans that he did not seek this fight, but at the same time he would be irresponsible to duck it.

Sorry, Mr. Westerhold, it is very much about the gun owners and their rights to privacy.

Mr. Westerhold openly concedes that Ohio law says that concealed carry lists are not public records. Think about that for a moment. The people, by and through their elected officials, have determined, as a matter of law, that these lists are not public records and the release of these lists is not in the public interest. Not some administrative agency trying to shield their meetings or who they meet with, not some bureaucrat trying to hide the fact he gave a no-bid contract to his brother-in-law, not a renegade school board member trying to change curriculum… The people, by and through their elected representatives, made a decision. Those who exercise a right, like praying, writing an idiotic editorial or obtaining an abortion, are not required to face public scrutiny. These are not public records, and their release is not in the public interest. So Sayeth The People.

Mr. Westerhold does not agree with that decision, and he works at a newspaper, so his opinion is the only one that matters. Contrary to the legislative and deliberative process and result, Mr. Westerhold gets to unilaterally make public that which is conclusively not public with the click of a mouse.

Mr. Westerhold’s editorial is full of clever (?) middle school logic class tactics:

    “It's about secrets”
    (Secrets are bad, evil, vile things. Privacy is good, wholesome and honorable. Substitute “privacy” for “secret” and reread his editorial.)

    “Gun owners should be proud of their choices”
    (In order to be proud of our choice we have to agree with Mr. Westerhold’s unilateral veto of the decision of The People. We all know if we are not proud of something we are ashamed of it. Since we do not agree with Mr. Westerhold it necessarily means we are ashamed of our decision.)

    “We posted it as a service to our readers.”
    (Really? What, exactly, was that service? Could you articulate it please? How many of your readers demanded this service versus how many were outraged by it? Details, please.)

    “It would have been irresponsible not to make this information available.”
    (Really, in what way? Spell out how it would be irresponsible to abide by the will of The People as expressed through their elected representatives. Once again, Mr. Westerhold, your arguments are conclusory.)

    “Gun owners have begun a campaign to harass the newspaper’s advertisers.”
    (Oh come on, even you don’t believe that, Mr. Westerhold. When you spew your drivel it is free speech; when gun owners exercise their rights of expression and tell your financial investors what they think about your “service to your readers” it is harassment?)

Finally, since no newspaper article on publishing concealed carry license lists would be complete without comparing the gun owners to sex offenders, Mr. Westerhold spends the balance of his editorial lamenting the poor job the Sheriff is doing on cracking down on sexual offenders and the sexual offender registry. Because, you know, gun owners should be treated like sex offenders.

I believe Mr. Westerhold has now hit the anti-gun cycle:

  1. Red Herring
  2. Non Sequitur
  3. Appeal to Ridicule
  4. Gun owners by insinuation are the same as Sex Offenders

As an interesting aside, Mr. Westerhold has presented himself an opportunity to demonstrate just how much of an anti-secret crusader he is. We took great interest in reading in The Register about all the trouble the county is experiencing with registered sex offenders. Fortunately, Mr. Westerhold can now make a huge difference in this fight.

Upon information and belief, Buckeye Firearms Association has documented that the Sandusky Register employs at least one registered sex offender, either on a contractor basis or as an employee. Of greater concern is the fact that the Sandusky Register’s main office appears to be within 1,000 feet of several schools. Even more shocking, part of this person’s duties appear to include making numerous deliveries throughout Sandusky and surrounding areas in the dead of night. The Sandusky Register’s subscribers have no way of being able to check and see if the paper is sending this sexual offender to their house or neighborhood in the middle of the night.

Unfortunately, due to a loophole in Ohio’s sexual offender registration law, we cannot search these sexual offender public records by employer or employer address. The Sandusky Register can come to the rescue, as they have special access to this information, and can use their special access to make this information public as a service to their readers.

As Mr. Westerhold pointed out in his story on gun owners (?), “What could be more important than arresting child rapists?” We agree, and we agree it is troubling there is this drastic backlog of sexual offense investigations. The Sandusky Register is in a unique position to do something about this by using their special access to make this non-public record a public record, just like they did with the concealed carry lists.

At press time, The Register had not returned phone calls or emails inquiring about how many sexual offenders they have under their employ.

We call upon the Sandusky Register to immediately publish, on their website in electronic format, the name and home address of every employee, contractor, carrier and contract carrier who works for them. The Register should do this as a service to its readers so the public can determine just how many sex offenders The Register employs, and whether the offenders are being sent to our neighborhood or past the schools right next to The Register’s offices.

Attorney Ken Hanson is Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair and author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws.

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POLL: How do you feel about journalists publishing the names of CHL holders?

Continuing Coverage:
Sandusky Register Editor Matt Westerhold Declares War on Gun Owner Privacy

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who will guard the guardians?

What is the harm in publishing lists of concealed handgun license holders?

Letter to Sandusky Register Editor Matt Westerhold

Think the Register got too much private info? Records prove they wanted MORE

Former Trooper to Editor Westerhold: ''That's no public service'' Ohio Newspaper Under Fire for Outing Gun Owners

Register 'doing it for the readers' - who keep saying they don't like it

Sandusky Register on Privacy: What's good for me not good for thee

Rush Limbaugh praises Buckeye Firearms Assoc. response to Sandusky Register Readers: Publishing Names of CCW License Holders Irresponsible

Sandusky Register's error-filled list of CHL-holders' private info

Public Defender's Letter to Register Editor Westerhold: ''Public Trust Broken''

''Innocents betrayed'' by the Sandusky Register

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