Sunday, March 18, 2007

More navel gazing over publishing the list of gun owners

The Roanoke paper, by publishing then pulling the list of gun permit holders, has surely made at least one mistake, possibly two.

In the first place, they could have written about the accessibility of this information without publishing all the names and addresses - they could have told the story without becoming the story. By publishing all the names, they maximized the public splash in ways that don't strike me as relevant to the goal of exploring FOIA.

In the second place, they quickly caved when the permittees complained about the invasion of their privacy, even though, as the paper now reports in this piece by Laurence Hammack, the privacy issues are largely hypothetical and other newspapers in other states continue to publish this information. The reporters probably smacked their foreheads when they learned of this editorial sell-out.

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