“…Let me say this right off the bat: I was stupid. Also naïve. And I am truly sorry because, as pure as my motive for posting the list was, it became obvious to me that my tactic was colossally wrong. As my many critics will point out, what’s done can’t be undone. But I wish it could.” Well, as long as her motives were pure…. Gwen Moritz, the Arkansas Business editor, didn’t like that the state’s database of gun owner info was about to be exempted from FOIA availability. So she grabbed the latest version she could before the list went dark and posted it on line. Then, when the the state’s gun owners turned up the heat on her . . .
She took the list down, but still made it available to anyone who requested it. Nothing impure there.
I quickly realized that striking a blow for government transparency struck terror into many Arkansas CCL holders.
Gosh, it’s hard to figure why a publicly available list of people with firearms in their homes could possibly cause such a kerfuffle.
…My name, my husband’s name, home address, phone and work phone numbers and pictures of my house — from the same Pulaski County tax records that Arkansas Business regularly mines for news — were posted all over the Internet. A Facebook page sprang up called “Gwen Moritz Breaks the Law” (although I have not) with prison bars Photoshopped over my picture. A 51-year-old wife, mother and journalist who exercised her First Amendment right in objection to government secrecy became a national threat to the Second Amendment literally overnight.
But everything’s sunshine and rainbows now, because Gwen has grown from her blow-striking experience. Besides figuring out that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should — not to mention the revelation that gun owners “are not criminals”– Gwen had a couple of other epiphanies.
I believe that citizens should be able to ask their government whom it has licensed to carry a concealed weapon. Also who their government has licensed to practice medicine, practice law and cut hair. But my clumsy attempt to make that point instantly turned me into an unrecognizable caricature who wants to strip Americans of the right to own guns, who hates America and the Constitution.
So for the record: I do not want to want to strip Americans of the right to own guns, I do not hate America, and I do not hate the Constitution.
That’s the “my motives were pure” part. The crusading journalist defending the people’s right to know. She just wanted to be able to ask her government who has CCW licenses. Just like she’s done countless time with barbers and beauticians, right?
Wait, one more teachable moment resulted:
A lot of our fellow Americans are scared. I heard from several people whose names were on the Arkansas CCL list who said they were happy for the world to know that they could be packing at any time. I heard from others who were terrified that random bad guys would be reading ArkansasBusiness.com and use the list to harm them.
It was never my intention to make people who already live in fear more miserable. I’m ashamed to say that never even crossed my mind, although it certainly should have. Many of my correspondents immediately concluded that punishing CCL licensees for daring to want to protect themselves was my one and only goal. And I completely understand why they would feel that way: As I also wrote recently (in another inadvertent but poetic exercise in hypocrisy), motives don’t matter nearly as much as actions.
So again, for the record: I do not wish to punish law-abiding CCL licensees, and I am sorry if they believe I have.
Miscreants using her list to target gun owners never crossed her mind? That’s kinda hard to believe, since she referenced what happened in New York in her apology.
I certainly didn’t think I was doing anything like The Journal News in New York, which in December created an interactive online map showing the addresses of handgun licensees.
Maybe she thought publishing a list of only names and zip codes wouldn’t have the same effect as the Journal News’s little stunt. But in a much more sparsely populated state, how hard could it really be to ID gun owners using the Arkansas Business list?
Can she really be that obtuse?