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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments


The Memphis Commercial-Appeal is getting a lot of heat from those with concealed-carry permits angry over a searchable database of Tennesseans with the permits:

Gun owners say the database is an invasion of privacy and makes permit holders easy targets for burglaries. They have flooded the newspaper with complaints — some 600 e-mails daily, threatened staff and posted personal information about newspaper employees, including Google maps to some homes.

The Commercial Appeal added the database to its Web site in December, but it did not draw attention until an early February story about a parking spot argument that ended with a motorist shot dead.

About five years ago, The News-Sentinel did a story about local gun-permit holders and considered putting the searchable database online. Before taking that step, editors here decided to conduct a poll, which we did through the editorial page. We got more than 3,000 responses, an astonishing result, and the same kind of people protesting the Knoxville move made our results lopsided. "Don't put it online" won by about a 95-5 percent margin. For several reasons, including the poll results, we decided not to put the database online.

So who made the right call, the Knoxville paper or the Fort Wayne one? Were we being responsible in listening to the critics who said we'd be putting people in danger? Or were we being cowards and failing in our duty to publish public information?


Bob G.
Mon, 03/02/2009 - 12:08pm

(imho) YOU guys got it "right", but the leftists would say otherwise (public records et al).

Personally, I feel the ONLY people that should be privy to such records as the CCPs should be law-enforcement, and (maybe) prospective employers (with a non-disclosure provision).

I mean, we sure don't WANT to let criminals know where they can get FREE guns...(especially in MY neighborhood), do we?

And Memphis (Knoxville) wouldn't be one of my FIRST choices to post CCPs online, anyway...they've got enough crime as it is.
Posting databases with convicted sex offenders and felons is ONE thing (that protects the citizens and our children)...posting which LAW-ABIDING CITIZEN has a gun permit is quite another (that protects the criminal).

William Larsen
Mon, 03/02/2009 - 2:09pm

I agree somewhat that the News Sentinel got it right. Basically any information provided to a government agency about an individual is not public unless required to do so by statute. The gun permit requires information from the applicant. I would be curious as to what statute authorizes the dissemination of this information.

Based on my dealings with the BMV, IRS and other government agencies, they have seldom read the statues and when they disagree with them write regulations that contradict them. Then they will plead a write of mandamus stating that the courts have no jurisdiction to order the government agency to do something a statute requires them to do and they are not doing.

Michael B-P
Thu, 03/05/2009 - 9:59am

"the courts have no jurisdiction to order the government agency to do something a statute requires them to do and they are not doing."

... and they will plead the writ of mandamus, meaning such a writ has been issued in the first place and they are refusing to comply? How can a government agency possibly legally refuse such a writ, particularly if, by definition, it is issue by a higher government authority?

Andrew Jarosh
Thu, 03/05/2009 - 9:40pm

We don't want criminals to know where they can get free guns? Jeez, if I know my criminals, the last place I would think burglarizing would be a home inhabited by someone with a gun.
It's the same deterrent as take home police cars: Show might, show authority, show some fire power, and the crooks will go elsewhere.