If law-abiding gun owners needed another reason to be dubious of why their firearms ownership should be made public, the San Francisco Chronicle provided it. Fortunately, Sutter County Sheriff Brandon Barnes was strong on the side of gun-owners and did right.
Earlier this year on Jan. 10th, the San Francisco Chronicle sent a public records request to Sherriff Barnes demanding to know personal information about concealed carry permit applications and current permit holders. No surprise here, but the newspaper did not say why the info was needed. However, the Chronicle felt that information was crucial to the 22 million monthly readers it reaches as one of the top-five largest newspapers on the West Coast.
Sheriff Barnes balked, sticking to his guns (and gun owners) as a strong protector of law-abiding American citizens’ Second Amendment rights. The county council advised against withholding the information and said he needed to provide some of the data. Sheriff Barnes did one better.
He sent a proactive letter to concealed carry permit applicants and permit holders that some of their information was given to the press, even though he “personally declined” to do so.
This is a poignant reminder why gun owners should be leery of public registries of their gun ownership.
Doxing Gun Owners – Again
This incident smacks of the time when the New York Journal News published an interactive map showing the home locations of concealed carry permit holders following the passage of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s disastrous SAFE Act. That article was taken down after a massive national backlash.
The San Francisco Chronicle has yet to disclose why they “need” the names and detailed personal information of concealed carry applicants and permit holders. Instead, when confronted, they resorted to deflection and virtue signaling in their response stating they were, “deeply disturbed by how some sheriffs have handled the common request” by a “respected and established news outlet.”
Fortunately for the law-abiding firearms owners in California, Sheriff Barnes said he’ll continue to give proactive notice to permit holders and applicants when these requests are made.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.