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Know Your Neighbors: Who Has A Gun Permit?

Roanoke Times editorial writer Christian Trejbal last week decided to celebrate Sunshine Week in Virginia by providing readers of his newspaper with the complete list of all their neighbors who hold permits to carry concealed weapons. Now there's a real public service; if your neighbor is prepared to shoot someone who attempts, say, to mug him, you'd certainly want to know about it.

Well, the ensuing howling was almost as big a riot as if Trejbal had tried to confiscate those guns himself. Readers went ballistic, so to speak. Folks threatened to cancel their subscriptions, demanded that the editorial writer be sacked, jumped up and down until the paper caved in entirely and stripped the database from its web site. (The paper fell back on the lame excuse that some of the names in its database should not have been there because those folks got their permits to carry as a result of having been victims of violent crimes; the reasoning is that such people have an extra special right and cause to carry concealed weapons and their names ought not be made public.)

Even that was not craven enough a response for the offended masses. Now there's a move to change Virginia law so that the public records showing who holds a permit to carry become un-public. So much for Sunshine Week.

Trejbal made no effort in his original piece to criticize the carrying concealed weapons law or permitting process. He simply did what any citizen can and should do--take existing public records and make them easily accessible. Just as newspapers like the Post have taken real estate records and put them on our web site so that readers don't have to troop down to the courthouse to check on the assessed value of the houses on their block, the Roanoke paper took an existing public database and made it readily available to the public. Nothing Trejbal did in any way changed the public nature of the list of gun permit holders; he simply removed an obstacle to easy checking of the list.

Trejbal knew from the start that some folks would not like their neighbors to know what they are carrying around with them. Maybe deep down, those people with carrying permits know that having that permit renders them dangerous and odd to many of their fellow citizens. Trejbal wrote at the very top of his first piece on the subject:

I can hear the shocked indignation of gun-toters already: It's nobody's business but mine if I want to pack heat.
Au contraire. Because the government handles the permitting, it is everyone's business.

The reaction was swift and wild. The very first commenter on the Times' site posted Trejbal's home address. So there! Trejbal calmly debated his readers, arguing that he was not making any comment on the gun law, just on the public information law and the need for citizens to lay claim to those sunshine rights.

The editorial writer did look into the impact that concealed carry laws have on crime rates. Checking FBI records, he found that overall violent crime rates are slightly lower in concealed carry states, but in some especially awful crime categories, rates are much higher in concealed carry states--for example, rape, aggravated assault, property crimes, burglarly and theft. But Trejbal didn't include any of that in his original piece because he was not aiming to criticize Virginia's gun law; rather, he only sought to celebrate the public information law.

Trejbal discovered that about 2 percent of Virginians hold concealed weapon permits. By listing all of those who lived in his paper's area, he allowed readers to make their own choices--some might feel safer knowing that the guy next door carries, while others might decide to ban their children from playing in a house where the parents are packing. Information is not the enemy--information is a tool. You can use it to argue your case, defend your rights, push for change or merely check up on the neighbor. (I'm waiting for publication of a database of who owns dogs that bark every morning at dawn--that way I won't ever again make the same mistake I made a few years ago, when I moved out of one house thrilled to get away from a nuisance dog, only to land at another location where a dog sometimes serves as our early morning alarm.)

It's terrific to see a newspaper serving its community by making public databases more open and available. I was disheartened to see the Roanoke paper back off so quickly. As the Internet has taught a new generation of readers, information wants to be free. That doesn't necessarily mean free of charge (Trejbal had to pay a fee to get the gun permit database and the Roanoke paper has to pay Trejbal's salary and the cost of putting the database on its web site), but it does mean freely and broadly available to all.

By Marc Fisher |  March 20, 2007; 7:48 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, I can understand being angry that my name would be printed in the paper without my consent; there's a difference between knowing that I'm in a database that is in theory accessible, and having said database splashed all over the local newsprint. On the other hand, the database is, after all, public property.

Printing the reporter's home address in the comments as retribution is pretty infantile, though.

Posted by: Zach | March 20, 2007 9:03 AM

Oh, please, how disingenuous can you get. The writer's goal was to invade the privacy of legal gun owners as a disincentive to others applying for gun permits. "See what happens when you own a gun -- your name will be printed in the newspaper whether you like it or not!"

Posted by: Washington Dame | March 20, 2007 9:07 AM

Public record means public record, folks. You can print my name in the paper all you want if it will stop the junk mail from Larry, Moe, and Curly wanting to save me money on my mortgage! Don`t want to submit to the permit and record keeping process? Carry your gun openly.

Posted by: crc | March 20, 2007 9:19 AM

Than be carried by 6. Marc how many folks with concealed weapons permits in VA have used the gun to commit any crime and how many folks with concealed weapons were convicted? I am sure the liberal media and card carrying leg shavers columnists like yourself would blast it all over the MSM if one did.

Smart move by the columnist letting criminals know who had guns etc.

How many neighbors of concealed weapons holders in VA were victims of crimes by these concealed weapons holders?

I have no problems with the database being public I do have problems with the papers and columnist publishing the info for their own agenda!

Posted by: Rather Face A Jury of 12 | March 20, 2007 9:22 AM

The point of Sunshine Week is to shine light on GOVERNMENT actions, not those of private citizens. The reporter just as easily could have chosen to publish information related to the functioning of government that is not easily accessible. Instead, the reporter chose to publish the personal information of private citizens. His only purpose, revealed by his choice of words to describe the gun owners, was to cause the legal gun owners embarassment.

Posted by: ep | March 20, 2007 9:25 AM

What is the problem with owning guns?They have been a part of american history since before we became a unified nation.Why do you northern liberal believe that the gov't/police will protect you from all crimes?Have you ever conceived of protecting yourself and not being such a limp wristed sissy?

Posted by: fred | March 20, 2007 9:25 AM

Printing the list just lets the criminals know where the guns are. And the reporter, despite claims to the contrary, was just trying to harass gun-owners. I doubt people owning guns is that big of a deal in Roanoke; it is only in liberal bastions like NoVA and DC where they are demonized. You should be permitted drugs or an abortion but not the means to protect yourself.

Posted by: Stick | March 20, 2007 9:30 AM

Show me a case in VA where a concealed carry permit holder has committed a crime. I'm waiting. I'll be dead in 80 years, and still waiting for you to bring a case. I can find 10 cases in VA right now where people, women too, were mugged or robbed, raped or beaten to death. I bet they wish they had the ability to defend themselves. Your line of -if your neighbor is prepared to shoot someone who attempts, say, to mug him, you'd certainly want to know about it.- Why? You're kowtowing to the left, and making FUD out of a non FUD issue. Since when does a guaranteed right become something to fear? Only because the media makes it so for those that are so inclined to believe the prattle.

Posted by: Roofer | March 20, 2007 9:31 AM

Show me a case in VA where a concealed carry permit holder has committed a crime. I'm waiting. I'll be dead in 80 years, and still waiting for you to bring a case. I can find 10 cases in VA right now where people, women too, were mugged or robbed, raped or beaten to death. I bet they wish they had the ability to defend themselves. Your line of -if your neighbor is prepared to shoot someone who attempts, say, to mug him, you'd certainly want to know about it.- Why? You're kowtowing to the left, and making FUD out of a non FUD issue. Since when does a guaranteed right become something to fear? Only because the media makes it so for those that are so inclined to believe the prattle.

Posted by: Roofer | March 20, 2007 9:34 AM

Just another of Marc anti-gun screeds. Only liberals like him (if you are anti-gun, you ARE a Liberal) are scared of guns and demonize their owners.

Posted by: Permit Man | March 20, 2007 9:35 AM

This article is NOT about the Second Amendment. You people with an agenda need to stop making this into something that it is not. The list of people with these permits was public property. Publishing it violated NO laws, no standards of ethics, NOTHING!
We need MORE transparancy in government, not less.
Oh, and by the way, my name's on the list.

Posted by: CT | March 20, 2007 9:36 AM

Oh, and Permit Man - Giuliani is pro gun control, and no one has EVER accused him of not being a Republican.

Posted by: CT | March 20, 2007 9:37 AM

I would want to know who of my neighbors was carrying a concealed weapon. I appreciate the paper for demonstrating that that information is publicly available. And why shouldn't it be? I do think that people who own guns are more likely to use them than people who don't own guns... find fault with that logic, folks.

Posted by: DC | March 20, 2007 9:38 AM

To use a line created by the press because it does not exist in the US Constitution:

"The people have the right to know".

Since the government issues press passes to selected individuals for entrance into limited accessability events, I feel, as a citizen who has a right to know, that the names and addresses of the individuals receiving those press passes should be published in the local paper and online for all of us to see.

I would also like to have the names and addresses of people receiving learners permits to drive. I don't want my kids playing in the front yard when the neighbors' 16 year old kid comes blasting down the road. Since we are averaging over 3000 people killed every month because of motor vehicle accidents this knowledge would come in handy. Interesting that more people die EVERY MONTH in motor vehicle accidents than we have lost in FOUR YEARS during the war on terror and yet nobody is marching for vehicle safety.

Or, we could maintain a little privacy and restrict access to records such as press passes, learners permits, and weapons permits, etc.

I guess it all depends on what type of country you want to have. Does anybody have the right to infringe on other people's rights? All for the sake of "The people have the right to know"?

Posted by: SoMD | March 20, 2007 9:40 AM

Is there anyway the Post could publish the list of ccw permit holders in Arlington? I'd like to know who the concealed weapon carriers are on my block and in my neighborhood. It would help me make decisions about who my kids play with and temper my interactions with ccw holders. I think these licensees react so stridently because deep down it is shameful for them to have these permits. If it weren't, why the fuss?

Posted by: Bob in Nova | March 20, 2007 9:42 AM

Read Warren vs DC if you believe police are liable in not protecting you from private crime. You'll realize that you're on your own. The police being obligated to protect you from crime is a myth. CHP do more to protect the populace as a whole. If VA has so many (140000) permit holders, where is the wave or murder and violence? It's in DC. Funny how that works. I'm glad my neighbors are packing - there were more than 600 in my zip code alone!

Posted by: LOCO | March 20, 2007 9:43 AM

Printing that list was a remarkably ill-conceived action. Let's go through and get a list of all the people in Alexandria that own expensive sports cars and put that in the paper, too. Highlight where criminals can find these things and we'll just hope that some enterprising young thug doesn't get a list and watch the house for the owners to leave. I learned a long time ago that we don't have an expectation of privacy anymore (especially where media & busybodies are concerned), but let's at least TRY to not make it so easy for the malicious. It's called the law of unintended consequences.

Posted by: 23112 | March 20, 2007 9:45 AM

Bob in Nova, you clearly didn't understand the purpose of the original article. You can do what the reporter did and request the records yourself if you want them, not wait for the Post to publish them. The article wasn't about harassing CCW holders, remember?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 20, 2007 9:56 AM

Bob in Arlington: You prob bump into them in Metro and they're the ones who politely say "Excuse Me, sorry." The thugs are the ones to worry about - how about getting a list of their names published? How about the 15 yr olds who are carjacking and committing felonies? They're the REAL threat. They're the PROBLEM. You think they act like its shameful. Perhaps it's the wife of an ex-husband that was beating her. She left him, keeps a low profile and wants to protect herself instead of relying on some late to the party police force. DO you think she's shameful? Do you think we should publish her address? Think again if it was your daughter. Stop thinking about yourself so much and just for a moment put yourself in other people's shoes. Prob difficult for you.

Posted by: Rob | March 20, 2007 9:58 AM

Hey lets take this to its logical conclusion and publish:

Driving records (I want to know if that nut in the green Honda is as dangerous as he looks)

Tax records (Someone might not be paying their fair share)

Magazine subscriptions (Is that weird looking guy down the street reding Hustler?)

Criminal records (I just know my neighbors have done time for jay walking)

Lets start by having the Washington Post publish all the above records for their reporters. After all if we have no privacy rights; why should they?

Posted by: Woodbridge | March 20, 2007 10:01 AM

"Is there anyway the Post could publish the list of ccw permit holders in Arlington?"

Seems to me anyone could get the database from the courthouse (probably an electronic text file or Excel spreadsheet) and post it on a website himself.

In fact, I think I might do it myself.

Sounds like fun.

And! I can do it without revealing my name!

Posted by: Dan | March 20, 2007 10:03 AM

So why doesn't the paper print the names of alleged rape victims?

Or of juveniles charged with a crime?

Or the names of physicians who've been sued for malpractice?

Or the social security numbers of elected officials?

All are public records and available.

Your claim of merely making the available data more easily available is disingenuous at best and mendanacious at worst.

Posted by: ymal brucker | March 20, 2007 10:09 AM

Re CT: Nobody suggested that Guiliani isn't Republican. He isn't, however, conservative. He can call himself anything he wants, but his record is what counts.

Posted by: Nate | March 20, 2007 10:10 AM

Why wouldn't you be happy that your name was printed? It's a deterrant for criminals. They'll go rob someone else's home.

There's nothing wrong with owning a gun, and nothing to be ashamed of. Why would you be unhappy that your name was in the newspaper showing that you were exercising your second amendment right? Newspapers publish the names of people that exercise their first amendment right and contribute money to political campaigns. How is this different?

Posted by: Cliff | March 20, 2007 10:12 AM

Wow, some of you really ARE that paranoid! Public records are public records. Many localities already have their public records on the internet, so publishing them in the paper doesn't really make all that much difference. If you are so inclined, you can look up the political contributions of your neighbors.

Woodbridge, criminal records are also public records. You can go down to the courthouse (or, in Virginia, look it up online) to see who is a criminal. For all those people who want to know whether a concealed carrier has committed a crime, you could probably even cross-reference both PUBLIC lists and figure it out yourself!

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 10:13 AM

So, "Rather Face A Jury of 12", what do "card carrying leg shavers columnists" have to do with outing concealed carry permit holders? I shave my legs, and I'll bet most of the female readers here do too. Is that supposed to be some sort of right-wing-attack-machine insult?

Posted by: oberle | March 20, 2007 10:14 AM

I think this is case of the newsmedia creating news rather than reporting. Thus I think the paper crossed a line that it should not have.
I have limited knowledge of the laws regarding handgun regulation. However, it seems clear that the state recognizes that citizens have a desire to carry handguns secretly. But what is the point to getting a permit to do something secretly, if the permit is public? It seems to me that the reason this system works is because the bureaucratic red tape makes something that is nominally public in effect rather private. The newspaper's actions upset this practical balance.
Of course, it is a legitamate issue to be raised that goverment inefficiency (or if intended, secrecy) makes this system work. This is an issue that is clearly relevant and appropriate to address during Sunshine Week. The editorial however could have simply and effectively made this point through good writing without actually acting to destroy the balance in place.

Posted by: Fee | March 20, 2007 10:28 AM

I am a strong defender of the Second Ammendment. While I do not have a concealed carry permit - Maryland is not a right to carry state - I would if I could. I strongly disagree with you that permit holders should be regarded as dangerous. It is simply a matter of personal safety. The criminals are the ones that should be regarded as dangerous! Those who would fear being shot by me (in my home, as I do not have a permit) could avoid this fate by simply not threatening me with deadly force.

This information is a matter of public record and I see no problem with publicizing it. That said, I'd be pretty pissed if I saw my name in the newspaper without my consent too. Their anger is understandable. Their actions are not. Once their anger has cooled, it is easy to see that this is a matter of public record and should remain so.

Posted by: Lyria | March 20, 2007 10:29 AM

Isn't it more likely that crooks will avoid the houses where they know people have permits to carry concealed weapons? Seems like it would be good for people to advertise that fact.

For me, I'd be happy to know who on my block has a concealed weapon permit. Those are the houses my kids don't get to play in.

If you're not embarrassed for people to know you have a CWP, why do you care if it's published? How is that any different from publishing, say, the price you paid for your home?

Posted by: Kate | March 20, 2007 10:44 AM

Lyria, You gave your consent to have your name published in the newspaper when you signed up for a permit (well, you personally didn't, but the Virginians who have them did), just as you consented to have your name published when you purchased your home, or got married, or got a driver's license, or registered to vote, or any number of other actions we take with the government. You can philosophically disagree with the publication of that information, but this country has always been built on the principle that it is better to have such things (interactions with the government) as public knowledge.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 10:48 AM

I think it would be a public safety service for the Post to publish the names of people who have ccw permits in Arlington. Just as a ccw permit holder feels safer walking around with a gun, I'd feel safer knowing who is walking around with a gun. I stand by my contention that ccw permit holders are ashamed of having these permits and don't want the public to know. And Rob, I'd be willing to be that over 90% of ccw holders are men, not women.

Posted by: Bob in Nova | March 20, 2007 10:52 AM

I think the reflexive anger by the gun-toting crowd comes from being inundated by the NRA's fundraising literature about the leg-shaving liberal government coming to get your guns. So gun-owners have become very possessive and secretive about their ownership.

The weird twist to this story is that it's not the government that's finding out you have guns -- the government already knew you owned a gun because it licensed you to conceal it! -- so why the secretiveness? I think mainly it's just reflexive. But frankly, I would want everyone to know I had a weapon -- they'd be more likely to decide not to rob my house, right? (Assuming all those terrible thugs are perusing the op-ed page of the Roanoke Times during Sunshine Week.)

I just don't see where the harm is. It should be like wearing those "I VOTED" stickers on election day -- if you support the 2d Amendment so strongly, be proud you're exercising your rights as a citizen!

Posted by: HS | March 20, 2007 10:53 AM

That's my point, OD, though I probably wasn't clear about it. I'd be pissed because I didn't know it was coming - I didn't give my consent to that *specific action*. However, once cooler head prevail, it becomes obvious that since it is (and should be) a matter of public record, there is no problem with printing it. I would have, in fact, given a general sort of consent when I got the permit.

Posted by: Lyria | March 20, 2007 10:56 AM

**Why do you northern liberal believe that the gov't/police will protect you from all crimes?Have you ever conceived of protecting yourself and not being such a limp wristed sissy?**
-------------------------------------------FYI, Fred, just about any self-respecting 19-year-old street thug can take your gun away from you and make a "sissy" out of YOU! Don't believe me? Try packing your gun and going for a casual stroll in SE DC. or Capitol Heights.

Posted by: CEEAF | March 20, 2007 10:59 AM

Why not buy a dog? It guards the house when you're absent, guards it while you're asleep, guards your family while you're out with your gun, will take a bullet for you/bite out of any intruder, and is nearly as intimidating to the thug (sic) community as whatever you're packing.
And walking it helps reduce your fat ass.

Posted by: Not compensating | March 20, 2007 11:02 AM

The only thing that bothered me is the notion that "you'll keep your kids away from a house with a firearm". Look at the numbers people, your child is more at risk at a home with a swimming pool than at a home with a gun. And let's not even throw in the risk of driving your children around. What the paper did wasn't wrong; but I understand people feeling slighted that they made the news. And for all you creative types, worry more about people carrying unlicensed firearms...

Posted by: Rodney | March 20, 2007 11:07 AM

As a supporter of the entire Bill of Rights, I welcome the list. I think it's the only way to ensure that conceal carry permits are issued fairly and evenly. Since I live in Maryland and I'm not a business owner, doctor, lawyer or politician I have no right to defend myself.

Having a list would give me an idea of the people I could count on when I can't count on the government. Heck, dialing 911 is a crap shoot anyway, think if a terror attack, major storm (Kirtania) or even a prolonged power outage where to happen. Who do you call when the police are overwhelmed and a pack of looters are coming down the block? Call that CCW holder!

Having a CCW should be a badge of honor, it means your record is spotless, you have (some) training in firearms safety and understand your rights. Then again, my name was not on the list.

Posted by: Deacon | March 20, 2007 11:08 AM

Sure, I'll stick a Rottweiler in my waistband when I'm going to the bank. Great thinking. :P

Posted by: 23112 | March 20, 2007 11:10 AM

The lead-in to this story is extremely misleading. When you read the actual piece in the Roanoke Times, the author sets his condescending tone early and even likens gun owners to sex offenders. The article was not objective and seemed to be intentionally inflammatory. There is also a failure to mention that ccw permits are universally accepted as public record. 18 states don't agree, 17 do believe it's public record, and 15 have no definitive stance. Having lived in VA my entire life(growing up in SW VA, now living in NOVA), the stark contrast in firearms is particularly fascinating. How many of the irrational anti-gun crowd have first hand experience with firearms I wonder?

Posted by: Mike | March 20, 2007 11:27 AM

The concept for this story is not unusual. Mr. Fisher may recall that in fall 1995, the Connection Newspapers here in Northern Virginia compiled and published a similar list - and got the same reactions, both positive and negative.

Posted by: Brian T. | March 20, 2007 11:33 AM

I don't know if I fall into the irrational anti-gun crowd or the irrational pro-gun crowd, but I have extensive experience with guns, although I do not have a permit.

And I have NO problem with this list being published, regardless of the tone.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 11:34 AM

The yuppies don't want their kids near a home that may have a firearm in it but as soon as junior turns 16, mommy and daddy is buying them a new car to run all over the roads (and with little to no driving experience).

Posted by: WB | March 20, 2007 11:36 AM

You know, with that database Christian Trejbal could have done a good story on the fairness of the CCW permit process. Remarking on racial, religious, or social standing of permit holders.

He could have done a story on CCW permit holders and the rate of crime, how many permit holders have been the victim of crime, or even how many have committed a violent crime. He could have reported on the number of accidental discharges of the weapons in public. Or the number of children killed by firearms in homes where a CCW permit holder lived.

But, instead he assumed that a law abiding person, that is willing to pay the fees, submit to the background check, be fingerprinted, and jump through what ever other hoops Virginia requires of a permit holder is somehow a danger, and that the public should be warned of there presence.

Publishing the list was fine, but the failed to qualify that information with any facts was just piss poor journalism.

Posted by: Deacon | March 20, 2007 11:38 AM

Does anyone who argees with Trejbal think the concealed weapon law makes sense?

Posted by: Fee | March 20, 2007 11:40 AM

why does he have to "qualify" the list? the list is public info and he published it... I'm failing to find the "p*** poor"-ness of it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 20, 2007 11:41 AM

He did not provide a context for the information. The tone of the story implied that the list would allow people to know who was a danger, or a nut worried that the king of England might try to get into there house.

The fact of the matter is that the story provided a list of the people that are the least danger. Anyone you see on the street could have a concealed firearm. Most homes in the United States have a firearm. The people listed where the ones that took the extra steps, the safest ones.

Posted by: Deacon | March 20, 2007 11:48 AM

The disingenuous anti-gun-owner crowd whines that Trejbal's outing of VA CCW holders somehow performs a public good. From the comments here, the good they FEEL happens is that they will be able to confirm their pre-existing bigotry against certain neighbors they already dislike. Too bad for them that they will actually find out that quiet, *normal* people who they actually like and get along with also believe in the Second Amendment, causing said anti-gun-owners to seek therapy for their cognitive dissonance.

Posted by: K-Romulus | March 20, 2007 11:52 AM

So I took your advice, Mike, and read the piece. No condescension, no intentional inflammation. The "likening" of those with ccw permits to sex offenders was only an illustration of how government made decisions to distribute its resources and just how "open" it really was.

After reading it, I am even more supportive of the article. It is instructive of how ordinary citizens can access public information: sometimes it's free on the internet (complete with interactive maps), sometimes it takes a trip to the courthouse, sometimes it requires a fee, sometimes it requires years of legal wrangling over a FOIA request.

This is what good journalism does: shines the light on how the government is operating and gives citizens the tools they need to be responsible and active. I think the specifics about ccw permits is only incidental.

But then, I have no ideological axe to grind in this fight.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 11:52 AM

I too would like to see the names of all minors in my neighborhood that have been arrested for anything. That would allow me to make sure that my kids don't get involved with that kid. I would also like to see the driving records of my neighbors too so I can make sure that my kids never get in their cars.

Posted by: Alan | March 20, 2007 11:54 AM

Deacon, don't be so sensitive, I'm pretty sure the "King George" comment was a joke. Perhaps it was an ideological tipping of the hand, but it is true REGARDLESS of what you think of the current usefulness of the 2d Am that its impetus is in protecting oneself from the Crown. therefore, a decent joke (for a newspaper column). it was NOT the only reason he said one would own a gun.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 11:55 AM

Mr. Fisher misrepresents the scope of the database in order to make the reporter's actions seem benign. Specifically, the posted was not limited to a "complete list of all the[] neighbors" of "readers of his newspaper", nor was it just a "listing [of]all of those who lived in his paper's area." Instead the database contained the name and addresses for every CCW holder in the entire state. Thus, the purpose could not have been just to inform the local populace of whether their "neighbor" had a permit. Thus, this is an example of a reporter publishing something just because he can, made all the better because the information may dissuade people from availing themselves of a legal right of which the reporter and Mr. Fisher disapproves.

Posted by: Al | March 20, 2007 11:56 AM

While the database is public record, the Roanoke times made it more easily accesible to criminals. The other problem with what Trejbal wrote is that he basically compared gun owners to sex offender in his column, saying that how easy is to know where sex offenders live in your neighborhood, it should be just as easy to know where gun owners are. Well, by definition, gun owners are NOT felons! And, show me where any concealed carry permit holders are committing crimes - you can't.

Posted by: WDC | March 20, 2007 12:00 PM

Anyone who thinks Trejbal*s article was neither inflammatory nor unfair, and didn*t comprehend his insinuation that CCW holders were in the same public danger category as sex offenders (why else would he frame it that way?), only does so because they share his same anti-gun-owner bias.

Posted by: K-Romulus | March 20, 2007 12:01 PM

The newspaper had every right to reprint or link to the database. It's a public record. It is a public record for very good reasons. As Christian Trejbal pointed out, government employees make mistakes from time to time. It also doesn't meet the standards for an exemption (personnel matters, land purchases, security reasons, etc.). It is a shame the paper bowed to pressure to remove it.

However, denying that the Trejbal had no idea that his writing cast a negative light on gun owners or that that was not his secondary intent is disingenuous and hypocritical. Please. He knew when he hit the keyboard that his statements would be inflammatory and that they carried the implication that gun ownership and concealed carry permits were bad ideas.

Let's look at some of his piece and how he words it. Do the words he chooses carry positive or negative connotations? What images does he deliberately invoke?

"There are good reasons the records are open to public scrutiny. People might like to know if their neighbors carry. Parents might like to know if a member of the car pool has a pistol in the glove box. Employers might like to know if employees are bringing weapons to the office."

The implications of those statements: If you go to your neighbors house, you might get shot. If you make your car pool buddy angry, he might shoot your kid. If you go to work, one of your co-workers could go postal and kill you. All because they own guns and have concealed carry permits.

Combining parents, kids and guns is absolutely a negative tactic. Parents want to know if their carpool member has a gun? Tell me that was meant to imply that parents could depend on a gun owner protecting their children. Now do it and believe it yourself. Employees bringing guns to work? That wasn't meant to allude to the cases of workplace violence that make the news? I have this bridge in Brooklyn I'm selling.

"Might like to know" is a convenient phrase most commonly used when conveying alarming or negative information. You might like to know your lover has herpes. You might like to know the dog you are adopting hates cats. You might like to know there is a sex offender living in your neighborhood.

When was the last time someone said "You might like to know you won the lottery." No, they say "DUDE! You won the lottery!!!! (Can I borrow $10,000?)"

How about this paragraph?

"Local celebrities generally don't carry, but at least a half dozen elected officials do. I'll leave it to readers to figure out which ones so you can avoid annoying them at meetings."

Implication: Not only should you mistrust your government, you should fear your elected officials too. They might just shoot you. Trejbal completely ignores that elected officials are routinely threatened with harm--even on the local level.

Overall, there are eight obviously negative sentences about concealed carry permits and the people who have them. There is ONE sentence that provides a positive viewpoint.

Writers are not oblivious to the impact their words have. To the contrary, it is why most people go into journalism. They want to have an impact on society. I'll give them credit for wanting to improve society. (It's why I went into journalism and ultimately why I left.) Writers know that by simply choosing to word a sentence one way or another, they can put a positive or negative spin on an idea.

Trejbal could have very easily used less inflammatory imagery and writing and actually accomplished his stated goal--to celebrate Sunshine laws. Instead, he chose to use Sunshine laws to cause fear and intimidate citizens who *legally* carry weapons.

He was right about two things. Sunshine laws are good for democracy and whether or not a concealed carry law is a good thing is another debate entirely.

Posted by: A disillusioned journalist | March 20, 2007 12:03 PM

Why is information bad? If you have a valid legal right, why is it bad that people know you're exercising it? Al, you say publishing this information will dissuade people from applying for the permit. But K-Romulus says that publishing the information may lead the anti-gun crowd to realize that most gun owners actually are responsible law-abiding citizens?

Why not just publish the already-public information and let the chips fall where they may? If it can support one side, surely there's information out there that will support the opposite (i.e., that permit-holders do not commit crimes).

(Incidentally, if the individual counties maintained their own lists, he wouldn't have had to go to the state police to find the information. Again, supporting my argument that this is more about testing open government than specifically about the merits of concealed gun ownership. Stop seeing conspiracies around every corner.)

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 12:03 PM

As I said in my first post, I would welcome the list. I wish I could get one for Maryland! Freedom on Information is a wonderful thing!

If he would have changed a couple of things...
Take this paragraph.

There are good reasons the records are open to public scrutiny. People might like to know if their neighbors able carry. Parents might like to know if a member of the car pool has a pistol in the glove box in case of a car jacking. Employers might like to know if employees are bringing weapons to the office in case some nut decides to go on a rampage.

Posted by: Deacon | March 20, 2007 12:07 PM

Many of the posts on this board demonstrate why the term "gun nuts" became so commonplace.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | March 20, 2007 12:08 PM

"I do think that people who own guns are more likely to use them than people who don't own guns... find fault with that logic, folks." I got another one for you genius, people who ride motorcycles are more likely to get into motorcycle accidents than people who don't ride motorcycles! What does that prove?

Posted by: Stick | March 20, 2007 12:08 PM

disillusioned journalist,

So is this an argument over the publication of the list itself, the right to own a gun (or carry it concealed), or is it just the same old tripe about how the mainstream media is so obviously liberally biased and every time they write something we have to nit-pick over each individual phrase to find fault?

It's the Roanoke Times, for crying out loud, how good do you expect their columnists to be? 90% of the paper is just AP stories.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 12:09 PM

Just because you can publish this list doesn't mean you should. This is journalism at its worst. Trejbal is just another left wing, anti-gun, nut-job reporter we can lump into the pile.

Trying to show that there isn't any discrimination on who gets a CCW, would have been newsworthy. His article was an attempt to injure CCW permit holders.

I trust my fellow CCW holder far more than I trust the average citizen.

Posted by: disenter | March 20, 2007 12:09 PM

Isn't there some harm to publishing the list? If the specifics of ccw permits are only incidental to the point of the editorial, then it is not really good journalism to include the information.

Posted by: Fee | March 20, 2007 12:11 PM

Gee Marc -- Why don't we also use Motor Vehicle Records to publish a list of everyone who owns a luxury car so that criminals will know who to rob. Since you love public databases so much how about posting you home address, license plate number, etc. on your blog. Oh, but that would be an invasion of your privacy.

Posted by: get a clue | March 20, 2007 12:14 PM

Ah, I love the FOIA process!

Posted by: madam | March 20, 2007 12:14 PM

Maybe I should post Marc's home address here? And the make, model and license plate #'s of the 3 Mercedes he owns?

The moron who said get a dog doesnt understand not all dogs are protection oriented and they must be trained or they they might attack friends and families.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 20, 2007 12:14 PM

The real issue here is the likelihood that such a list will be interpreted as, or used for, a means of focusing community disaproval on people who are doing somthing that is perfectly legal and within their rights. It also carries at least the implication that these individuals are a treat to public safety.

Would we be equally comfortable with a newspaper posting the names of everyone who attends political protest? If not, why not? Attending a protest is a public act - anyone who cares to go down and observe it can see all of the attendees.

List of non-confidential information can carry implications of their own - particularly when associated with hot-button issues such as guns.

Posted by: Demos | March 20, 2007 12:16 PM

Hey Marc why not publish alist of machine gun owners? Do a FOIA request to BATF and you could list everyone in the Metro area who paid the fee and underwent the checks to legally possess an automatic weapon. Your SO's stilettos are more dangerous the a CCW!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 20, 2007 12:20 PM

"I do think that people who own guns are more likely to use them than people who don't own guns... find fault with that logic, folks."

It's fine, as far as it goes. But use them for what? We're talking about law-abiding citizens who've gone to the trouble to go through the permitting process; not some gang-member or small-time thug who bought a Saturday night special off of the street corner.

Are they more likely to use a gun to shoot a carjacker? Or intruders into their homes? Or someone robbing a local business?

The real nub of this debate is whether or not citizens who apply for, and are approved for, a concealed carry license will use those weapons for appropriate and socially useful purposes. Do we have any evidence that they will not? As Mark says, crime rates provide some support for the idea that the weapons will be used appropriately. (And yes, some crime rates are higher - which may be the impetus behind the legislation. Hard to prove either way - research on this kind of "natural experiment" is notoriously tricky.)

Posted by: Demos | March 20, 2007 12:23 PM

Wow, what a great idea. I think I'll do the same thing for DC now that their allowing guns in homes.

I have a computer science and GIS background, so I have the means to so something pretty slick; Perhaps a Google Map with the pinpoint locations of everyone who's been granted a permit. :)

Posted by: Chris | March 20, 2007 12:24 PM

No, there is absolutely no harm to publishing this list. There is no specific harm anyone can cite to. Everything so far has been conjecture. You could never prove any of these harms in a court of law.

And further, it's already public information. If it's already public, there can be no harm in making it public in another forum. I don't care if you say that the bureaucratic redtape or effort required "effectively" makes it non-public. It is public and newspapers have the right (and that right is ordered before the right to own a gun, if you're counting at home) to publish it.

Besides, if he couldn't illustrate his point without publishing the list, then it's not very responsible journalism, either.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 12:25 PM

Certainly, what Trejbal did was legal, and that's the problem. Fisher would think it was outrageous for the Government to keep a list of people who have exercised their First Amendment rights in some way (e.g., by keeping a public list of the names of anti-war protestors). Such a burden on the exercise of Second Amendment rights should not be any more permissible.

There may be parts of the Constitution that Fisher would like to change, but we shouldn't get to pick and choose, and it's therefore regrettable that the local governments in Virginia are permitted to do so.

Posted by: Tom T. | March 20, 2007 12:26 PM


The information is bad because it undermines a legitimately enacted law.
If the valid legal right is to do something secretly as is the case here, then information about who is exercising the right defeats the right, no?

Posted by: Fee | March 20, 2007 12:29 PM

Note to non-gun owners: Assume that everyone you don't know owns a gun and carries it.

Note those carrying concealed: Your gun is not a deterrent if no one can see it. Therefore, as someone else also pointed out, you should carry it openly. Also, the ability to launch lethal projectiles at super sonic speed means that a few pieces of paper down at the local courthouse shouldn't really be much to worry about.

Posted by: mercuryq | March 20, 2007 12:44 PM

I think there's a difference between public access to records and publicizing them. Seems that gov'ts are, or should be getting some idea that while certain records should be publicly available you should have to do something more than look online to access them. With ease of acess you get increased "velocity" of information, and with that you get problems. Applying for a CC license in VA requires a public application. There should be a record of who makes those applications, just as there should be a record of who is convicted of violent crimes. Should I be able to access that record by going to the county courthouse and looking it up? Yes. Should it be published for all to see if a paper in an effort to show "gee look what I found?", or available online at a mouse click? Probably not.

Not only that, but I agree with those who point out this was in facet personal information of individuals, not information on the public functioning of our gov't. There's a difference.

Not only that, but I agree with those who point out this was in feect personal information of individuals, not information on the public functioning of our gov't. There's a difference.

Posted by: JD | March 20, 2007 12:45 PM

K-Romulus, I agree Trejbal likely had an anti-gun bias when he wrote that column. Is this particularly shocking? Most of the media does, sadly. Wether he had a bias or not, it is still public information. Get angry about his bias and the appropriateness of said bias in journalism, not about publishing public records.

DC, you wrote "I do think that people who own guns are more likely to use them than people who don't own guns... find fault with that logic, folks." There is no fault with the logic. The fault lies in the fact that using guns is not illegal and is frequently not harmful (such as at a target range). Using guns *in the commission of a crime* is illegal. That is where you will find a division between legal gun owners (like CCW permit holders) and illegal gun owners, who are committing the vast majority of crimes using guns.

Posted by: Lyria | March 20, 2007 12:46 PM

Here's why you don't publish lists of CCW holders - often they have been victims of crime and don't want to be found by the criminal again:

1. Comment from Trejbal's article: "I've moved twice to get away from a violent ex. Now I have to move again. Gee thanks."
2. Another comment from Trejbal's article: "Thanks for telling my rapist where I live now. Did I mention that he told me he would kill me when he got out? Did I mention that he's out now?"

In addition, publishing a CCW list is a double benefit for criminals: not only do they know which houses likely contain guns to steal, they also know who is likely to NOT be armed. Publishing CCW lists make the criminals' life easier and safer.

CCW holders are among the most law-abiding of all citizens. Texas, Florida, and Michigan keep detailed statistics on the arrests of CCW holders. They showed that CCW holders are 20 times less likely to be arrested for any crime whatsoever.

A boycott of the Roanoke Times's advertisers is ongoing and gaining momentum, and will not be called off until Trejbal is fired or the advertiser stops doing business with the Roanoke Times.

Posted by: jlbraun | March 20, 2007 12:51 PM

There is harm to publishing the list. Some people conceal guns that they carry because they don't want other people to know they are carrying a gun. One harm to publishing the list is that it makes harder for these people to do this.

There is harm in making public information more easily accessible. More people will access it and use it for bad purposes. This is generally outweighed by more people accessing information for good purposes.

Yes, the paper had the right to publish this information. That doesn't make it the right thing to do.

Posted by: Fee | March 20, 2007 12:54 PM

Trejbal's article was a smear on the citizens of VA who carry conealed weapons legally. As far as publishing a searchable database of known gun-owners on the Internet, why is that a good idea? Sure the public might like to know if their kids are playing at a gun-owner's house. Another part of the public might like to know who has a gun so that they can wait for the residents to leave and then burglarize the place. The abusive partner demographic would like yet another set of public records so that it's easier for them to track down their exes. I can think of only one reason to publish the list: the public might want to know. It isn't hard to think of many good reasons not to.

Posted by: TheCheat | March 20, 2007 12:58 PM

I am not a concealed permit carrier because I live in DC with its incredibly stupid gun laws that makes sure only the criminals have guns. But, if I lived in Virginia, I would be ticked as all get out that my name -- as a private citizen -- was published in the paper. It has nothing to do with shame. It has to do with being a private citizen in this society. Those who think that CCW permit holders are ashamed are projecting their own beliefs on those of gun owners -- who obviously have different views. Because your neighbor has a gun -- your kids are probably safer, than if all your neighbors depended on the police being in the right place at the right time to protect your kid. Trust me, if those CCW permit holders see your kid being kidnapped, they will act. And they won't care that you don't want guns around your kids.

Posted by: ep | March 20, 2007 1:00 PM


As usual, you get it wrong when it comes to firearms. It's known that you are anti-gun, so what I state here is probably going to fall on deaf ears, but I will write anyway in the hopes that you understand why some information should not be publicly accessible.

Mr. Trejbal and the editorial staff at the Roanoke Times took the occasion of this article to reveal the full names and HOME addresses of 135,789 Virginians who legally possess Concealed Handgun Permits (CHPs)while sanctimoniously equating these CHP licensees to sex offenders in regard to the level of danger they pose to the public.

Just in case you aren't aware, in order to get a CHP in VA, one must undergo safety training and provide proof of it, undergo an FBI and VA State background check, and in some jurisdictions be fingerprinted. CHP holders are probably the safest, most responsible people in VA. CHPs are acquired by retired police officers, active duty military, judges, prosecutors, civilians in hiding from abusive ex-spouses/ex-lovers, newly elected US Senators, and those Virginians wishing to carry a firearm for no other reason than general self-protection. The purpose of having a CHP is so that one can carry a handgun safely and discretely so one can effectively defend oneself against society's predators.

The Roanoke Times blew that out of the water by providing, on its website, a searchable database of ALL Virginia CHP licensees without regard to the licensees' safety or the safety of their families. The discretion promised by the permit is now completely blown. This list also establishes a "weapons shopping list" for criminals across the commonwealth and endangers public safety.

Mr. Trejbal's "Sunshine Week" article was sucessful in at least one way: it shed some light on how easy it is to abuse public information and what irresponsible, yellow journalism truly is.

Thank you

Posted by: TJ in VA | March 20, 2007 1:04 PM

"So is this an argument over the publication of the list itself, the right to own a gun (or carry it concealed), or is it just the same old tripe about how the mainstream media is so obviously liberally biased and every time they write something we have to nit-pick over each individual phrase to find fault?

It's the Roanoke Times, for crying out loud, how good do you expect their columnists to be? 90% of the paper is just AP stories."


It is none of those, simply an analysis of the piece. It is biased. It is allowed to be--it's an opinion piece, not a "factual news story." I was simply pointing out that denying its bias is pretty willfully ignorant and why it was willfully ignorant. Besides, I clearly stated that the newspaper has every right under the law as it exists to publish the list and should not have backed down by removing the database.

The media is biased because it is staffed with PEOPLE and people have biases. Most make an effort to conceal their biases, but increasingly, the lines between news and opinions are blurred, but that is moreso in the broadcast media than in print. Some journalists are biased in favor of the Democratic slant; some journalists are biased in favor of the Republican slant. However, even newspaper reporters acknowledge that the majority of journalists lean Democratic.

That is neither here nor there as far as this piece goes. Simply, Trebjal accomplished two things with this piece: to show the Sunshine laws in action and to paint in a negative light people with concealed carry permits.

What would you think if the story was about releasing the names of dog owners with permits and likening it to the easily accessible sex offender registry? After all, permits to own dogs are public record, just like concealed carry permits. Would it then be offensive lumping dog owners in with sex offenders? How much less negative would comparing the public nature of concealed carry permits to dog permits be?

By the way, where do you think The AP gets a fair chunk of their stories? The Associated Press has a staff of their own reporters, but it is a group of *associated* news organizations who submit locally generated stories to the wire service for distribution. Part of being a member of The Associated Press means not only do you use content from them, but you also submit content to them. The Roanoke Times is a member of The Associated Press, not a client. It uses content from and submits content to the service, so yes, I do expect the same quality as The AP. Besides, I don't know of a single daily newspaper in the US that doesn't use The AP Stylebook as its writing bible and supplements it with "house" rules.

Posted by: A disillusioned journalist | March 20, 2007 1:06 PM

If you do not get Trejbal's real intent while publishing the list - you are just not that bright, or just not that accomplished a reader - he is a flaming anti-gun nut, and was using his journalistic bully-pulpit to spout out a not-so-subtle attack on permit holders. Apparently this hypocrite didn't like HIS public info out there, even though (or because?) he is NOT armed. While I too believe gun owners deserve to be quite proud they are self-responsible about their own security, I also see the real possibility of criminals using the info published to target houses they know would have a good chance of containing firearms; not a big deal to observe an owner leaving his residence before acting. That aside, I would rather a BG know I am armed, then not - he will in most cases leave you the hell alone. The myth that CEEAF posted is amusing; I would also much rather be able to show ANY criminal how much harder it is to take on an armed citizen, then it is to take on an unarmed victim - very good chance it would be the last lesson he will ever get. We already know this is not a direct 2nd amendment issue, the indivdual right to keep/bear arms was not affected by this low-brow stunt. It may however further benefit gun-owners because of possibility of new laws being passed protecting the state's and holder's interests in keeping handgun carry concealed - atleast until the need & duty for/of gun possession and carry are more widely understood again. Until that time, too many will go right on thinking themselves inept, and so keep counting on government agencies to protect them. Good luck to them. In the mean time - you want to know if your neighbor's armed? Just ask them. Then go shooting with them - its a blast!

Posted by: John | March 20, 2007 1:09 PM

"Trejbal made no effort in his original piece to criticize the carrying concealed weapons law or permitting process."

That is nonsense. Trejbal's column was condescending and suggestive that gun owners are paranoid and violent, including such thinly-veiled opinion as "This is not about being for or against guns. There are plenty of reasons people choose to carry weapons...worry that the king of England might try to get into your house," and "I'll leave it to readers to figure out which [elected officials have permits] so you can avoid annoying them at meetings."

And the not so thinly-veiled: "There are plenty of reasons to question the wisdom of widespread gun ownership, too."

Finally, his rationale doesn't even add up well. He justifies himself by saying, "I can hear the shocked indignation of gun-toters already: It's nobody's business but mine if I want to pack heat.
Au contraire. Because the government handles the permitting, it is everyone's business."

Government handles a lot of things. Imagine the outcry if he had written, "I can hear the shocked indignation of rape victims already: It's nobody's business but mine if I was a victim. Au contraire. Because the government handles the investigation and prosecution of rape, it is everyone's business." How about the county-operated free clinic patient's medical records? How about our 1040s? SSNs? Federal employee personnel records? The government "handles" those things, too.

Posted by: glarus | March 20, 2007 1:09 PM

Well all the gun-lovers got their chance to howl about their need for a concealed weapon permit to defend themselves, though I would guess that about 0.1% actually face any exigent need. What's wrong with the rest of us being armed with knowledge about which of you morons is packing heat? I might need that information to defend myself against you.

Posted by: Paul | March 20, 2007 1:11 PM

Does having a carry permit mean that someone is packing? No it does not yet that is the implication. I have a carry permit because I was a security guard. I do not own nor need a gun at home. Why should I be singled out because I need to carry a gun at work? Were all cops listed? Of course not. What about the special permits for lawyers and lawmakers? I bet they were also not listed.

This was an attack on gun owners plain and simple. As usual it was cloaked in 'free speech.'

Why don't we have such Second Amendment rights?

Posted by: Charles | March 20, 2007 1:16 PM

For the people upset about the King of England line in Trejbal's column, I think he was actually alluding to a Simpsons episode in which Homer Simpson explains that he needs to own a gun in case the King of England tries to get into his house.

I, too, don't see what all the fuss is about on this. Public records mean public. Even if Trejbal does not like guns -- though based on the column I'd say the jury is still out on that -- this particular piece had nothing to do with a pro- or anti-gun agenda. It illustrated Sunshine laws and, based on the shock, also demonstrated that few people before knew that these records were actually public.

It's also interesting that according to a news story in Trejbal's paper, one of the top requesters of the concealed handgun list in the last couple of years was the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which has been leading much of the invective. Presumably is makes a handy recruiting list.

Posted by: TC | March 20, 2007 1:17 PM

"Sure the public might like to know if their kids are playing at a gun-owner's house."

Actually, if I wanted to know this, I would ASK the homeowner, instead of doing some sneaky passive-aggressive thing like Trejbal is suggesting. In fact, I would feel quite happy if my kids were playing at a house where the adult has a CCW! CCW holders have been background checked, fingerprinted, have no history of violence or domestic abuse, and are much more law-abiding than the average citizen! In fact, I would submit that if you DON'T have a CCW, I'm going to be much more suspicious of you, because you haven't passed a background check. Do you have something to hide?

Posted by: jlbraun | March 20, 2007 1:37 PM

There is an easy solution to this problem: Have VA pass a Vermont style carry law. That way, anyone who doesn't have a felony conviction can carry open or concealed without a permit ("the bear arms" part of the "right to keep and bear arms")thus eliminating the need to make a permit holder's home address, phone number and license plate open to the public. No one needs to know who carrys a gun concealed anyway. Criminals don't get carry permits and so why have carry permits at all? If a felon is caught carrying a firearm its just an additional charge. People without felony convictions should not have to have the consent of the state to bear arms openly or concealed.

Posted by: automan | March 20, 2007 1:38 PM

Many of you are encouraging permit-holders to be proud and open about it. You are attempting to call gun owners out on their claim that when people are armed, criminals are less likely to choose them as victims. You are missing the point. A society that permits gun ownership needs privacy for it to function properly. It's the uncertainty that deters criminals. The reason for this is clear - people leave the house. And criminals are in fact, smart to a certain extent. They're smart enough to know that burglary is preferable to robbery, and if they know which house contains guns, they merely have to wait for the owner to leave. Perhaps the owner has a gun with him. Chances are, he owns more than one. Therein lies the problem with the publicity. It's not about being loud and proud. Many gun owners are, just as the owner of a Ferrari with a Patek Phillippe on his wrist isn't trying to hide his wealth. But he isn't advertising his home address, either.

Posted by: glarus | March 20, 2007 1:39 PM


"What's wrong with the rest of us being armed with knowledge about which of you morons is packing heat? I might need that information to defend myself against you."

I think that you should read the following and learn how to deal with your anger, sir. Hmph.

Raging Against Self Defense

"Defense Mechanisms


About a year ago I received an e-mail from a member of a local Jewish organization. The author, who chose to remain anonymous, insisted that people have no right to carry firearms because he didn't want to be murdered if one of his neighbors had a "bad day". (I don't know that this person is a "he", but I'm assuming so for the sake of simplicity.) I responded by asking him why he thought his neighbors wanted to murder him, and, of course, got no response. The truth is that he's statistically more likely to be murdered by a neighbor who doesn't legally carry a firearm1 and more likely to be shot accidentally by a law enforcement officer.1

How does my correspondent "know" that his neighbors would murder him if they had guns? He doesn't. What he was really saying was that if he had a gun, he might murder his neighbors if he had a bad day, or if they took his parking space, or played their stereos too loud."

"Projection is a particularly insidious defense mechanism, because it not only prevents a person from dealing with his own feelings, it also creates a world where he perceives everyone else as directing his own hostile feelings back at him."

Posted by: jlbraun | March 20, 2007 1:41 PM

That would be a great solution, automan. But Virginia doesn't do it that way. Until they do, it remains public information.

Posted by: Lyria | March 20, 2007 1:42 PM

The worst case scenario for such foolishness is the ambush killing of the CCW holders:
*August 4, 2004*

Less than a week after the Cleveland Plain Dealer published Bill Singleton's name among a list of people who have chosen to obtain a license to bear arms for self-defense, Mr. Singleton is dead.

When three robbers came to Singleton's business Tuesday morning - they allegedly shot before Singleton had time to react to their demands.***But Singleton also worried that his business would attract thieves. He said he was robbed at least twice, and he was planning to buy surveillance cameras to mount outside the store, said Brian Friedman, head of the Northeast Shores Development Corp.

Records show Singleton received a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"He was scared," Friedman said. "He had a sneaking suspicion this would happen."**

Posted by: k-romulus | March 20, 2007 2:01 PM

I'll post here what I posted on the Roanoke Times site:

"By putting this information in the spotlight, you've endangered the lives and property of law-abiding citizens and their loved ones.

That's all you've done.

The public at large is no safer, and you've put lives at risk.

I hope that in the future you'll consider this before you wield your pen."

It bears repaeating.

Posted by: Tim Peterson | March 20, 2007 2:02 PM

I' like to see the numbers of crimes prevented by folks who have CCWs. I bet the results would be interesting.

Posted by: dmk | March 20, 2007 2:10 PM

How come no one is biting at the wonderful idea of a database exposing annoying dogs? Certainly the most intelligent thing I've heard all day (and I just read a lot of the above comments).

Posted by: DJ | March 20, 2007 2:10 PM

"A boycott of the Roanoke Times's advertisers is ongoing and gaining momentum, and will not be called off until Trejbal is fired or the advertiser stops doing business with the Roanoke Times."

Posted by: jlbraun | March 20, 2007 12:51 PM

What the Times did was perfectly legal given the sunshine law, and if those backward southerners who need to tote a gun to prove their manhood can't realize that, it's their tough luck.

Posted by: Vincent | March 20, 2007 2:19 PM

I'm going to simply re-post the letter I sent Mr. Trejbal.
A number of law abiding citizens go to a good deal of trouble and expense in order to obtain a concealed carry permit. This process is, in fact, considerably more involved than getting your drivers license (and if you think firearms are more dangerous than cars you really need to do some research). We could, quite legally, forgo that time, expense, and governmental investigation and simply open carry as we please. This is perfectly legal in Virginia.

So why do we bother with all of the hoop jumping?

Because "Bill of Rights" topics seem to get people worked up (on all sides of the matter). In consideration of that, some firearms owners prefer to be much more discreet in their actions. Also you may consider CCW permits as a compromise between those who believe in the Bill of Rights (especially the 2'nd Amendment) and those who think only duly authorized agents of the state should be armed. Isn't compromise supposed to be good?

It appears that you do not feel that compromise is good since your article simply blows the lid off of any attempt at discretion. You may truly believe that "the people have the right to know" but I have to ask you WHY do they need to know?

The people you have "uncovered" are law abiding citizens who have been "vetted" by the state via a background check, and who have spent their own precious time and money to go through an OPTIONAL (they could just open carry) process of training and authorization that is supposed to lessen tensions for everyone concerned. That these people have gone through all this bother AND PASSED should make you consider them MORE trustworthy not less.

That you don't understand this is, at best, terrible ignorance and at worst smacks of prejudice and yellow journalism.

Would you post a list of names and addresses for persons known to be gay? (people might want to know.) Would you post a list of names and addresses for persons returning from military service? (people might want to know). The point is that nobody, in any of the examples, has committed any crime so I wonder again WHY you would feel the need to spotlight any of them.

Posted by: Dale | March 20, 2007 2:23 PM

Several people are taking the stand that the gun owner's names should not have been published in the newspaper without their consent. Since when did newspapers need the consent of anyone to publish their names. Your name may end up in the newsparer for any number of things and no one is going to ask your permission. This is part of having a free press and a free society.

Posted by: Tessa | March 20, 2007 2:27 PM

Posted by Vince:
What the Times did was perfectly legal given the sunshine law, and if those backward southerners who need to tote a gun to prove their manhood can't realize that, it's their tough luck.


If you aren't smart enough to realize the damage that Mr. Trejbal and the Roanoke Times did by publishing that information, I pity you. Taking aside your insulting and degrading comments, CHP holders aren't "backward southerners", they are from all walks of life from Doctors, lawyers, soldiers, judges, maids, bakers, Senators, mayors, City Councilfolk, etc. Yeah, I can see why these folks don't want to protect themselves.
Vince, you are nothing but an idiotic, reactionary blowhard. Just like Al Gore, or Anne Coulter.

Posted by: TJ in VA | March 20, 2007 2:30 PM

I have a concealed weapons permit because I want to be in compliance with the law. If I am driving with a loaded handgun in my glove box and I am stopped for a traffic violation, I am breaking the law. An unloaded gun does me know good if I am approached by an assailant.

Posted by: gf | March 20, 2007 2:32 PM

Posted by: dmk "I' like to see the numbers of crimes prevented by folks who have CCWs." I dont think they give each ccw holder a scorecard. However researchers have estimated that guns are used to prevent or deter crime over 1 million times a year.

Posted by: Stick | March 20, 2007 2:36 PM

In the one million crimes statistic you stated does that include all the gang violence. Certainly, gangs having weapons keeps other gangs from committing crimes against them. And the drug dealers, certainly many of them have used weapons to prevent crimes. Really, how many actual armed robberies, rapes etc. are prevented each year by guns. And if that is compared to the statistics on gun violence who comes out ahead.

Posted by: To Stick | March 20, 2007 2:46 PM

stick: "researchers have estimated that guns are used to prevent or deter crime over 1 million times a year."

stick, can you please provide a link to one of these studies? I see claims like this often, but always without support. I would honestly like to see the research.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | March 20, 2007 3:02 PM

Dale: "Would you post a list of names and addresses for persons known to be gay? (people might want to know.)"

Me: there is no government repository of "persons known to be gay." You don't need a license or permit to be gay.

Very bad example, Dale.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | March 20, 2007 3:08 PM

I wonder how the liberals would feel if he published a data base of sex offenders? No not right to publish names of persons convicted of a crime, better to publish names of those who have passed a background check and have no criminal record to "test" the sunshine laws. Sure test the sunshine laws was his intent.

Posted by: john | March 20, 2007 3:08 PM

In order to keep my children away from their homes, I would like the Post to publish the home address of every member of the D.C. Metro Police as those homes contain firearms, and there have been shootings and accidents too numerous to count associated with those guns. The Government has that information. I have a right to see it. The officers involved are not private citizens, but public employees and we have a right to know about them. Its about openess, right? So how about that list? Could you include in that list their social security numbers too? Anyone starting to see the issues here?

Marc and Christian's practice of ignoring the negative consequences of their actions and naively parroting "freedom of information! sunshine week!" is a rather simple minded response to this issue, don't you agree? Just because Mr. Trejbal "could" lawfuly publish such a list does not mean that it was the most responsible thing to do. Moreover, their claim that the article had nothing to do with their hatred of the right to private ownership of firearms is, frankly, laughable.

Posted by: ConcernedinDC | March 20, 2007 3:20 PM

"Dale: "Would you post a list of names and addresses for persons known to be gay? (people might want to know.)"

Me: there is no government repository of "persons known to be gay." You don't need a license or permit to be gay.

Very bad example, Dale."
Well maybe there should be. Did you know that all homosexual assaults are committed by homosexuals? Plus, there is no constitutional amendment protecting being gay. So the gov't should regulate homosexuality--not outlaw it, but make you go through training, background check, etc., and then get a permit. After that, the list of names and addresses needs to be published. Not to offend or irritate--but as a matter of information to the public.

Posted by: jcm | March 20, 2007 3:20 PM

Here is a URL. I got it from the NRAILA website but you could also Google Gary Kleck.

Posted by: Stick | March 20, 2007 3:24 PM

Stick: thanks for the link. Here is the main problem I have with this report (the authors helpfully raise the issue themselves):

"Still worse, of course, would be an attempt to measure protective use of guns by relying upon reports to police. Where gun use prevents a crime from being completed, the crime itself is often unreported--indeed, nationally, only about half of victimizations reported to NCVS indicates there was a police report as well. And police rarely ask about, and never systematically record, protective measures taken by victims reporting crimes. Thus a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded study by Arthur Kellermann which reviewed some home invasion crimes reported to the Atlanta police was not worth the paper the Journal of the American Medical Association printed it on."

Now let's be realistic. Surely, if there were 2 million to 2.5 million crimes thwarted each year because of defensive gun use, there should be reports of at least several hundred thousand of those crimes. To just assume that people think, "Hey, I thwarted that crime, no need to call the cops" is just ludicrous. Permitted gun owners, being law abiding citizens, should be MORE LIKELY to report attempted crimes, not less, because they would want to help get the bad guys off the streets, not selfishly think, "Well, I thwarted that attempted crime against me, it's not my concern whether that bad guy will try it against someone else." Right?

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | March 20, 2007 3:34 PM

Loudon Voter: "Permitted gun owners, being law abiding citizens, should be MORE LIKELY to report attempted crimes, not less, because they would want to help get the bad guys off the streets"

They often don't because there are are plenty of gun fearing craven cowards like Marc Fisher around who will want to punish a law-abiding citizen for using a gun in self-defense. Just look at DC where (until the Parker decision is implemented) armed self defense is strictly verboten. Many people know they could never handle the responsibility of armed self defense, but at the same time don't like the idea that others can take responsibility for their own safety where the police often fail. They embrace their irrational fears, and try to bring about a level playing field by forcing everyone else down to their level of helplessness.
Even in a relatively straight thinking place like Virginia, someone who resorts to armed self defense will end up in a civil suit even if they are 100% in the right. Every bullet has a lawyer attached.
It would be nice if this weren't the case, but the sad fact is that the legal system is infested with people who side with the criminals over the victims. The recent case of the 'Mall' mugger/robber/rapist who was given (very near) the minimum sentence is a perfect example.

Posted by: Molon Labe | March 20, 2007 3:50 PM

Apparently Trejbal and Fisher, besides being questionable journalists, are also typical anti-gunners, in that they are quite selective and mis-leading about the information they post as facts. In 2005, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, & Nebraska, were No carry states. (Brady Bunch rates an A). Several others were *may-carry*, which in actuality tend to fall either way...i.e. try getting a permit in the DC, Maryland, Hawaii, or California (Brady gives an A or B). 32 states got a Brady Bunch D or F (= shall-issue permits)). I used the 2005 Brady Bunch State ratings on Concealed carry to compare results. The FBI crime reports are easy to access, and with excel, easy to sort. What I found when comparing highest crime rates in 2005: Violent Crime - #1 DC=A+, #7 Maryland=A+, #14 Illinois=A+. Murder - #1 DC, #2 Maryland, #13 California=B+, Robbery - #1 DC, #2 Maryland, #6 NY=B, #7 Illinois, #8 California. Agg Assault #1 DC, #10 Delaware=B+, #11 Maryland. Property Crime: #5 Hawaii=A-, #6 DC. Larceny Theft #1 Hawaii, #11 Kansas=A+. MV Theft - #1 DC, #7 Hawaii, #8 California, #9 Maryland.

Rape and Burgalry are indeed catagories were shall-issue states suffer; so girls - get out there and get your permits! You deserve to protect yourselves!

Having an opinion is one thing, lying to promote it is dispicable, as a journalist it is also irresponsible and contemptable.

Posted by: John | March 20, 2007 4:03 PM

Way to go Vinny!

I almost got to the end of the comments before an idiot -- you -- chirped up to obscure the debate by questioning the manhood of "backward southerners."

Didja see the link on defense mechanisms?

Regardless this whole thing seems to me to be a journalism ethics experiment gone awry.

I bet there are names on that list of people who are afraid for their lives. Identifying them to their possibly homicidal antagonists is a situtation that didn't need to take place.

Posted by: Georgtwoner | March 20, 2007 4:05 PM

Molon: "Even in a relatively straight thinking place like Virginia, someone who resorts to armed self defense will end up in a civil suit even if they are 100% in the right. Every bullet has a lawyer attached."

You should read the study. The authors estimate that the gun was fired in only around 1/4 of the cases, and struck the target in far fewer than that. So we're already down to a very small percentage of the cases.

Also, as you surely know, anyone can sue anyone for anything at any time. Now, whether any particular suit is SUCCESSFUL is another story. I would definitely like to read about successful civil suits against people for defensive gun use. Do you know of any?

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | March 20, 2007 4:10 PM

John said:
"I wonder how the liberals would feel if he published a data base of sex offenders? No not right to publish names of persons convicted of a crime, better to publish names of those who have passed a background check and have no criminal record to "test" the sunshine laws."

John-- take two seconds and you'd realize this already exists.

Posted by: D | March 20, 2007 4:10 PM

I'd just like to reiterate what I said earlier today: every single instance of "harm" cited by those who oppose publishing the list is conjecture. The one instance -- in Ohio -- is unrelated to the Roanoke article and cites a broken link to an article that, even if it worked, is clearly written by impartial folks (ccw proponents in Ohio).

So, we can debate the merits and dangers of gun ownership, but I think the publication of the list in and of itself is completely harmless. And since it was already public information, completely unremarkable.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 4:17 PM

Everything made illegal was legal before it was outlawed. So the fact that publishing the list was legal doesn't mean it was right. Obviously, if publication incites an immediate uproar to end the practice, the citizens of VA through their elected representatives consider it wrong to do so; that they did not previously consider the matter illegal when only an abstract matter should not be held against them. Pushing the edge on the social fabric is one way to ensure that a legal practice will be made illegal.

Posted by: RL | March 20, 2007 4:22 PM

RL, I assume you're responding to me. I also assume that you are saying it _should_ be illegal to publish the list. Which is a fine argument for you to make. But you should be making it to your representative rather than to the Roanoke Times. Since it was, and continues to be, legal to publish public information, then I don't see how you can complain that the Roanoke Times did anything wrong.

Again, all of this information is available to any citizen off the street for their perusal. Any motivated criminals could access it just as easily as the Roanoke Times columnist did. Any motivated, abusive ex-spouse who wants to hurt a ccw permit-holder and track them down could already do so. Publishing the list in and of itself is not harmful, because the information is already public.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 4:28 PM

For all of you advocating transparity, why not have tax records linked to Google Earth and gun permits. So while you're blogging about the evils of guns and pushing freedoms past common sense from your wealthy McLean or NW house, a criminal can find your income, get a map and aerial photo of your house, and see that you don't own a gun.

If you survive the robbery, let us know if you still feel pushing public information out to the masses is still such a good idea.

For the gun haters, I congratulate you on the stunning success in DC. Your draconian restrictions on firearms immediately stopped all homicides in the District. Those utopia years of Murder Capital US were all just a right wing conspiracy. Bravo.

Oh my beloved Commmonwealth is rife with discord fermented by meddling invaders from the North.

Posted by: WTF | March 20, 2007 4:47 PM

"John-- take two seconds and you'd realize this already exists."

John's example was poor - sex offenders have broken the law.

How would you feel about publishing a list of people who had exercised a constitutional right, but in a way that was politically charged? Specifically, what if the paper posted the pictures of everyone who attended a peace protest in the state? Or everyone who had attended a pro-choice event in the state? All they have to do is have a photographer at each event, taking pictures of the people coming and going.

Posted by: Demos | March 20, 2007 4:56 PM

Please, we all know that gun ownership is mere compensation for other "short comings"... Besides, in the Age of Litigation using that concealed weapon, even in self defense, could be extremely costly - not to mention a jury of 12 might not see your actions the way you see them.

Posted by: SUMB44 | March 20, 2007 5:00 PM

"Please, we all know that gun ownership is mere compensation for other "short comings"..."

Interesting. How do you explain female gun owners? Surely you don't want to invoke the old " . . . envy" theory!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 20, 2007 5:05 PM

OD: actually, I am saying what I said. Just because it was legal doesn't mean that it was right in a broader, moral sense. Think polite society as the standard of right and wrong. I sure wish I could parens here. I think it was wrong. The list could have been redacted to protect individual privacy. If this act is made illegal, as it has been in Ohio, then that will serve as an expression by the legislature -- and by extension, the people of Virginia -- that it was wrong.

Posted by: RL | March 20, 2007 5:08 PM

Isn't social ostracism due to bigotry a "harm?" If not, then why isn't STD info posted online? That info is reported to government health departments, is it not? Why is it not made public? Because it is private info, that's why, no matter the supposed "public record" aspect. There is a difference between having a record available to the public and publishing those records in everyone's face as an invasion of privacy.

Posted by: K-Romulus | March 20, 2007 5:08 PM

You seem to be confusing the issue of legal permissibility with journalistic responsibility. However, since the Pentagon Papers, newspapers can publish essentially anything they want (subject to slander and libel liability for false information, or non fair use copyright issues). So there's no real question that the RT could publish the list, even if it wasn't publicly-available.
The bigger question is whether the RT should have published the list. I posit that the list was not published for any altruistic concern for the RT's readers (as Fisher idiotically asserts based solely on Trejbal's statement that people "might like to know".) I base my conclusion both on the articles tone (i.e., comparing CCW permit holders to sex offenders) and the unlimited geographic scope of the published database (which Fisher misrepresents).
If you disagree, perhaps you could answer the following questions:
1. Wasn't the original article couched in terms of a demonstration of the reach of the Virginia FOIA?

2. Why did the information need to be published if he just wanted to show the information could be obtained, albeit with some limited difficulty?

3. If meant to help the RT's readers, why published the entire database, instead of limiting it to zip codes or counties constituting the RT's primary readership area? Note the the database could be searched by zip code (I know b/c I did it) so this was not technically infeasible.

4. Is Trebjal's comparison of CCW permit holders to sex offenders a reasonable analogy? an offensive analogy? Does it demonstrate any bias of the author?

5. Lastly, should newspapers print any and all information that its readers "might like to know", e.g, names of juvenile offenders, rape victims, or HIV-positive people, everyone who's filed for a restraining order or been subject to a restraining order, everyone who filed for divorce? Would your answer be the same if the state collected information (perhaps not names)of people getting an abortion (a right which is not explicitly listed in the Bill of Rights)?

Posted by: Al | March 20, 2007 5:09 PM

I live in Arlington and I have a gun permit but no gun. I got the permit as a matter of principle.

Nothing would make me happier than for criminals to look me up on the internet and see that I have a permit and think I have a gun.

My objection to the article is not that the reporter published a list of permit owners but that the comprehensive nature of the list means he also published a list of who doesn't have a permit.

That, to me, is reckless. It is like publishing a list of people who have big insurance policies, and no alarm systems.

Better would have been if he published a list of *some* gun permit holders and then interviewed people to discuss why they have them, etc.

Posted by: Scott | March 20, 2007 5:10 PM

"Is Trebjal's comparison of CCW permit holders to sex offenders a reasonable analogy? an offensive analogy? Does it demonstrate any bias of the author?"

Let's go one better - what possible connection is there between sex offenders and permit holders, other than the fact that FOIA can be used to identify them? That's not such a special connection - the same could be said of state employees, property owners in the state, individuals who have filed lawsuits against the state, . . .

Why the heck did he choose sex offenders, unless he was trying to suggest that both groups pose a potential threat to their communities?

And if that's what he believes, why the heck didn't he have the guts to just come out and say it? (Same goes for Fisher)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 20, 2007 5:15 PM

I grew up in Montgomery County, MD and at least one school, Baker Middle if I remember correctly, had an air rifle range. They taught kids how to shoot. We use to use it in the 80's when I was on the high school rifle team at Gaithersburg. I'm willing to bet that there aren't any rifle teams or school ranges in Montgomery any more.

Posted by: sc | March 20, 2007 5:19 PM

It's taking me forever to get through these responses - but there's one other significant point I haven't seen made. Each permit holder is associated with an address - the one at which he or she resided when they got the permit. If someone is so brazen as to effect a robbery, they may find the current resident owns no guns. Not only are they defenseless, but they're at risk because they won't tell their assailant where the guns are "hidden."

Posted by: glarus | March 20, 2007 5:20 PM

"I'm willing to bet that there aren't any rifle teams or school ranges in Montgomery any more."

One thing I did when my kids were younger is tell them that if they ever wanted to learn to fire a gun, to tell me, and I'd arrange to go to a firing range and teach them - but that if they ever saw a gun to leave it alone and go tell someone immediately. Far too many accidental gun deaths occur when some kid finds a gun and is curious and starts playing around with it.

I wanted them to know that they had a safe way to satisfy any curiosity they might have, so they wouldn't be tempted to mess with any gun they might come across - and it would also be an opportunity to teach them some basic gun safety. As it turns out, neither of them took me up on it. But I think it's important for parents to prepare kids in advance - and to avoid turning guns into some sort of exciting forbidden fruit that tempts them into doing dumb things in secret.

Posted by: Older Dad | March 20, 2007 5:26 PM

I don't care that any of you think it was journalistically or morally "wrong" to publish the list. Or that gun ownership is or is not constitutionally protected. Or that sex offenders are or are not comparable to gun owners.

My point is the list is already published, by the Commonwealth of Virginia, accessible to anyone that wants to read it. Every single one of your concerns about potential harm may be valid, but they should be taken up with the government, not the media. There is no additional harm by the Roanoke Times re-publishing what has already been published.

All other comparisons and complaints merely cloud the issue that the Roanoke Times was re-publishing already public information.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 5:36 PM

The database has been pulled from the website. Shucks! I was eager to see my name in the paper, and now I can't.

Posted by: K | March 20, 2007 5:41 PM

"I don't care that any of you think it was journalistically or morally "wrong" to publish the list. Or that gun ownership is or is not constitutionally protected. Or that sex offenders are or are not comparable to gun owners."

Is that because you don't believe that anything that is legal can be immoral? Or do you simply don't care whether a private newspaper commits an immoral act?

"All other comparisons and complaints merely cloud the issue that the Roanoke Times was re-publishing already public information."

So you are arguing that it is always acceptable to republish information that is already public? Are there any limits to that?

So, for instance, would it matter if the information were wrongfully released into the public domain?

Or if it were accidentally made public - like the recent release of search queries? In that case, does it matter how confidential the information is?

Does it matter how the information is used? So, we're all comfortable releasing the names of sex offenders - there's an obvious public benefit to that. Would you be o.k. with someone compiling a list of individuals who were accused of sex crimes, but never convicted?

What if that information were published so that people in the community could be "aware and protect themselves" against the potential threat the accused sex offenders present? After all, people "have the right to know."

What if it were a list of every health care provider licensed to perform abortions? What if it weren't published by a Pro-Choice organization, but by a Pro-Life organization that felt the community needed to know what local providers were up to?

You would not be alone in saying "I don't care if it's moral - it's legal." That's an increasingly common point of view in our society. But - and I hope you understand what I mean by this - it's a morally bankrupt way to view the world.

Posted by: Demos | March 20, 2007 5:48 PM

Fisher writes:

"Now there's a real public service; if your neighbor is prepared to shoot someone who attempts, say, to mug him, you'd certainly want to know about it."

Well, Fisher...there's a lot I'd "certainly want to know" about you too. I'm willing to bet there's a lot that's already in the public domain and all that's needed is some enterprising fellow to dig it all up. But doing so wouldn't be any less gauche than what the Roanoak Times did (and is rapidly backing away from).

Maybe instead of applauding the actions of the Times you should instead be focusing on why you're obsessed with knowing whether or not someone in Virginia has a CHP.....

Posted by: Goaltender66 | March 20, 2007 6:06 PM

Why not make a Google map with gun permit holders? People already have with sex offenders.

Posted by: aj | March 20, 2007 6:15 PM

The whole point of having a concealed license is that people DON'T know that you're carrying a gun. Therefore he shouldn't have made it public who did have one.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 20, 2007 6:36 PM


Of COURSE gun ownership is compensation for other shortcomings. My penis is rather large, but it still can't shoot a 165gr JHP at over 1000fps - that's what my HK is for.

Posted by: John | March 20, 2007 7:14 PM

Ironically, the names of law-abiding members of the public who choose to go through a government mandated process to obtain a concealed weapons permit is now publicly available, yet one cannot with equal ease search a publicly available database to find felons. Sexual offenders, yes, but misdemeanants and felons, no. They are certainly publicly available records from the court proceedings, yet they are not published with name and address as the information of law-abiding citizens. They are the ones we all need to watch out for, yet they are "protected."

Posted by: Mike | March 20, 2007 7:23 PM

Demos: Sorry, I went to the gym. Hope you get a chance to read this.

I'm going to avoid your legal/moral paradigm question - not because I don't think it's not an interesting question or because I'm trying to avoid your argument - but because I don't think that paradigm is relevant here. The newspaper republished information that is already deemed public. There was no mistake; there were no laws or policies broken; indeed, you can argue that any harm that was done had already been done by the Commonwealth of Virginia deeming this information to be public in the first instance. If anyone is at "fault" it is the Commonwealth of Virginia, and therefore by extension, all of us (assuming you are a resident, too). I simply cannot see this as a "moral" issue.

Obviously there should be limits to republishing information even if it is already in the public domain. But this is just not one of those instances because the information was rightfully in the public domain and continues to be in the public domain. I have not heard otherwise, so I assume that I could contact the Virginia State Police tomorrow and access the information myself. This is not information that was wrongfully released into the public domain nor is it information that contains "confidential" information (because it was already public, it cannot be considered confidential).

Obviously, when you get away from republishing verified public records, the parameters of what is acceptable change. And they change both "legally" and "morally". We could go back-and-forth with examples of different situations, but for this, I think the answer is obvious that the Roanoke Times had every right to publish the information and no responsibility to withhold it from the public (that already had access to it).

I don't view this as a morally bankrupt way to view the world. I maintain that if you think this information should not be in the public domain, get the Commonwealth of Virginia to change the law. Again, I don't have an ideological axe to grind with the gun ownership or the ccw permit issue. And, frankly, it scares me a little just how much information on each of us is easily available to anyone (from the government, the credit bureaus, the internet in general, etc.). But I just think there is absolutely nothing wrong with the newspaper republishing what has already been lawfully published by the government.

Posted by: OD | March 20, 2007 7:48 PM

Hey John, are you a member of MENSA?

Posted by: History | March 20, 2007 8:21 PM

SUMB44, I'm a woman. Not sure what short of shortcoming you are aiming for, or did you think only men owned firearms? I assure you, that's not the case. More and more women buy firearms every year. Further, if I am in fear of my life, I won't be thinking about litigation against me! I will be much more concerned about living through the next few minutes. I would hate for a eulogy at my funeral to read "At least she won't be tried for defending herself against the guy who killed her."

It is better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6.

Posted by: Lyria | March 20, 2007 8:57 PM


"did you think only men owned firearms?" Im sure that SUMB44 does indeed think this. Being anti-gun is inherently sexist, so this belief on SUMB44's part doesn't surprise.

Posted by: jlbraun | March 20, 2007 9:33 PM

"How would you feel about publishing a list of people who had exercised a constitutional right, but in a way that was politically charged?"

I challenge Fisher to publish a list of women who have had abortions.

Abortions are legal, protected under the constitution, and what's the big deal, I want to know if the tart I'm bopping is going to come after me for child support or 500 dollars and a ride home. (or likewise, do religious zealots want their children playing at the home of a baby killer?)

Posted by: Steve | March 20, 2007 9:40 PM

What the Washington Post, Roanoke Times, and other media forget, is that the Freedom of Information Act is in place to allow us citizens to keep an eye on the government. The FOIA is not in place to allow us citizens to keep an eye on each other.

Regardless of what one thinks of firearms, no one person has the "right" to know what another person owns, carries, or posesses. Just like no one has the "right" to know how much I earn, or what religion I practice.

You may not like the lifestyle I lead, but until I do you harm, kindly butt out.

Posted by: A. Braden | March 20, 2007 9:59 PM

I wish they'd publish a list like that in my state, so I'd know who to stay away from - those NOT on the list.

Posted by: Brandon | March 20, 2007 10:14 PM

Since you seem to be in favor of posting names and addresses, how about publishing the names and addresses of all uniformed and undercover police officers in your city. They're "public servants", so the record of their employment should be public as well... be sure to list their specific job titles, as taxpayers and citizens, we have the right to know, of course!

Posted by: Cannoneer2 | March 20, 2007 11:59 PM

Trejbal did not have a noble intent. Guess what journalists? You are not fooling anyone.
People's privacy was violated, damn the law.

Posted by: psdoff | March 21, 2007 12:06 AM

How absolutely stupid is Mr. Fisher. If you believe that publishing a list of people who carry concealed weapons is a good idea, maybe it would be a good idea to publish a list of people who masturbated today. And, maybe it would be a good idea to publish a list of how many times.

Oh yeah, the old rule "the public has a right to know", not really. The actual rule is the public has a right to know what the newspapers and television will tell them...then they will make an "informed" decision based upon the information given. Mr. Trejbal should be hung by his balls for performing such a heinous act. The public has a right to know nothing.

If I wanted the public to know what I was carrying, I would move to Texas, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico or Louisiana. You have to be a moron to want to publish this list. If the public wanted to know, they can go to the courthouse and find out for themselves. If they don't go, evidently they didn't want to know.

Where do you get your balls?

Posted by: nitehawksr | March 21, 2007 12:12 AM

People don't like their names and addresses printed in the newspaper. What's so hard to understand?

I don't have a gun carry permit, but I'd probably have disliked my name and address being in the paper. I know I did when I bought my house -- not because I'm paranoid or ashamed about owning a house, but simply because I'm a private person.

I own a home business. Thus my name and home address are a public record as part of that. Nonetheless, I'd dislike them being printed. Again, I'm not ashamed or paranoid about owning a company -- just private.

My name and address are part of my drivers license record. Yep, I'd dislike it if a paper printed them. No shame or paranoia about driving a car though.

Just because something's in a public record doesn't mean its not personal information that people would prefer not being published in the newspaper.

Posted by: Sean | March 21, 2007 5:43 AM

Add to my comment above:

OD wrote: >

Well, the government never actually published the list. The government did NOT print up the list and disseminate it to hundreds of thousands of people who never asked for it.

There's a difference between "held a record" and "published."

There may be nothing legally wrong with what the newspaper did. There might even be nothing morally wrong.

But people's anger is understandable. There'd be nothing legally or morally wrong with printing my name and home address among a list of business-license owners. I'd still dislike it.

And, yeah, I'd be angry if the list accompanied a story that compared business owners to sex offenders.

Posted by: Sean | March 21, 2007 6:24 AM

I'll add two new points to this discussion.

First, many of you are basing your support for publishing concealed carry permit holder lists on a desire for transparent government. I generally agree with the premise government should conduct its business in the public arena, but we all need to examine a more fundamental premise before we move on to specific consequences of making information public. What role is proper for government in the first place? Vermont and Alaska have no prohibition against any of their citizens - or visiting citizens from another state - carrying a concealed weapon (firearm) within their state's borders. They do have laws against the misuse of a weapon, including brandishing it or threatening innocent people with it. Virginia legislators have opted to issue permits in the interest of ensuring an understanding of self-defense laws and the legal use of lethal force - as well as reasonable proficiency with a firearm - which I think is good policy. But just because they have opted to regulate concealed carry in the public interest doesn't mean the privacy of citizens should be compromised. Start with thinking that as a law-abiding citizen you have a right to defend yourself, that as a woman or elderly person your only realistic means to do so is with a firearm, then move on to whether the state should regulate the means to do so - and then consider if the state should make your personal decision glaringly public.

Posters have already pointed out that publishing the list informs criminals where they likely will find guns and ammunition. That's just plain dumb. Posters have already pointed out that victims of aggression - spouses, ex-spouses, ex-girlfriends, and male victims as well - are living in fear of their lives. Gavin DeBecker, in his excellent book "The Gift of Fear" points out that in America women are murdered every day by men they know and are seeking to avoid. Publishing the list is recklessly harmful to all of these potential victims. I can't believe well-meaning but misguided proponents of publishing these lists will cling to the idea that it's a good idea - that it somehow serves a greater good in society - to intentionally place these victims at greater risk.

And my new point. We unfortunately live among many sick, demented or just plain evil fellow citizens who methodically prey on us. We have serial killers and serial rapists on the loose at any given time - no one can deny this fact. Keep in mind these types of people are highly unlikely to apply for a concealed carry permit themselves - they'll illegally arm themselves regardless of how many anti-gun laws exist. Some of them, like Ted Bundy, were highly intelligent people. When you publish a list of all the citizens in your state who have taken the time to obtain firearms training and been granted permits you are also publishing another list. You are publishing a list of men and women who have not concluded it necessary to learn how to defend themselves both at home and in public areas where concealed carry is permitted. Any serial killer or rapist need only compare the address of an intended victim with the list and if the address is not listed they know they need not fear injury or death from a legally wielded firearm. They can watch their intended victim leave their home and attack with far greater confidence their victim will be defenseless. They can attack them in their home with a higher confidence their intended victim won't even own a firearm.

It's time everyone recognized law-abiding citizens have an inalienable right to defend themselves from criminal attacks - and that any preparation they undertake to do so remain their personal business, and, at best, remain within the purview of the permit issuing state law enforcement agency.

Posted by: Dirk | March 21, 2007 9:04 AM

Dirk and everyone else:

I don't know how many times I have to say this. THE INFORMATION IS PUBLIC BECAUSE THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA DEEMED IT PUBLIC. If you don't agree, get the Commonwealth to change that fact, don't sit around here blaming the newspaper for republishing already public information.

IF YOU ARE SO CONCERNED, GET POLITICALLY INVOLVED AND GET THE LAW CHANGED. If the Commonwealth wants to change the law and withhold the information for all of the valid reasons people keep repeating, then by all means, keep it private. But the newspaper publishing it while it remains PUBLIC information under the law IS NOT WRONG.

If you can't understand this simple argument, then the terrorists will sadly win...

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 10:29 AM

"I'm going to avoid your legal/moral paradigm question - not because I don't think it's not an interesting question or because I'm trying to avoid your argument - but because I don't think that paradigm is relevant here."

If I'm reading your post correctly, you're essentially arguing that there's no moral content to the act of republishing in this instance, because whatever moral wrong that may been done was done by the Commonwealth first. I want to say this as kindly as I can, but I think this is a cop-out.

It seems to me that you're still implicitly setting mere legality up as the standard for moral "rightness" - for instance, when you say that the information is " . . . rightfully in the public domain and continues to be in the public domain."

There are too many examples in history (and current society) of completely legal acts that are completely immoral.

I think you're also confusing confidentiality (information that should be considered private) with whether or not information has been disclosed ("because it was already public, it cannot be considered confidential"). Courts have many times found a right to privacy over behavior or information that was not currently recognized as such by statute or regulation. If you don't like the word "confidential" for such information, pick one that works for you - "personal," or "sensitive" or "private." The point is that some information is more personal and sensitive than other information, and the disclosure has greater potential social and personal consequences (e.g., HIV status vs. educational status, sexual orientation vs. hair color, medical condition vs. property ownership).

I've heard many express the opinion that journalists and and the organizations they work for are amoral, if not actively immoral, in pursuit of a good story - and don't care who they hurt in the process, or whether there's any public benefit to what they publish. I generally don't believe that to be true - but it's hard to defend when journalism is defended by someone saying that the question of morality is beside the point, because the information legally available.

Bottom line, I think your' summary statement leaves out two absolutely critical words:

"I think the answer is obvious that the Roanoke Times had every [legal] right to publish the information and no [legal] responsibility to withhold it from the public (that already had access to it)."

The real questions are: Even though the Roanoke Times had every legal right to publish the information, was there any material public benefit to doing so, and if not did they have a moral responsiblity to refrain from further publicizing that information?

I'm still convinced that it's morally bankrupt to duck those questions by saying that everything the paper did was legal.

I will agree with you that too much personal information is too readily available (which is one reason I object to newspapers making it even MORE readily available without some very good reason), and that the law should be changed.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 11:00 AM

"But the newspaper publishing it while it remains PUBLIC information under the law IS NOT WRONG."

OD, our posts passed each other in time (I guess that means we really are talking right past each other).

That was a great statement of your position. And is absolutely correct, if you add one word.

"But the newspaper publishing it while it remains PUBLIC information under the law IS NOT [LEGALLY] WRONG."

You can drop the word "legally" if you assume that if something is legal, it cannot be morally wrong. But if this isn't true, then it's meaningful for the rest of us to argue that while the publishing of this information by the newspaper wasn't legally wrong, we believe it to have been morally wrong. You can disagree with us, and we can debate it (and we may be mistaken on it) - but you can't say that the question is meaningless or beside the point. (Unless you believe that "legal" = "moral")

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 11:07 AM

For those arguing that this is all ok because the permit holders' names are a matter of public record please note that before there were Rape Shield Laws the more responsible elements of the media often declined to publish the names of sexual assault victims in order to protect them from further humiliation.

That fact something is public knowledge doesn't automatically make disseminating it to a wider audience right or proper.

Posted by: Tim Peterson | March 21, 2007 11:23 AM


Maybe it is a cop-out. One reason I tried to avoid your moral/legal paradigm is because my answer to you got way too long, so I just deleted it. The other reason is I just cannot wrap my head around this being a moral issue.

Which is the reason I also avoided your other examples. For instance, Tim Peterson points out that before Rape Shield Laws, it was legal to publish victims' names but many publications decline to do so (apparently on moral grounds). I can see the moral argument there. I cannot see how it is immoral to publish names of people licensed by the state to do something. It may be personal or private information, but it is not confidential. It is public.

I avoided mentioning it earlier, but I am an attorney licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia (I was trying to avoid the derogatory "attorneys have no morals" remarks, but I think it's relevant here). As it so happens, I have not and probably never will appear as an attorney before a court in Virginia. Yet I have been licensed by the Commonwealth and my address is a matter of public record. You can go look it up (and you would be able to look up my disciplinary record, too). Were the Roanoke Times to republish that list, I believe I would have no argument against it doing so. My name and address are already a public record. The RT republishing that information does not really change that.

Maybe it is "immoral" for the names of permit-holders to be legally considered public information, but again, I can't really see the moral aspect of it. I can see lots of practical arguments to keeping this information non-public (most of which have been made here repeatedly), but again, that means going back to the government to change the status of the information, not lambasting the newspaper.

In the end, I guess what I'm really arguing against here is that no one is really upset that the information was republished in the paper. They are upset because (1) they don't think that information should be public in the first instance (to which I say again, get the law changed) and (2) they are overly sensitive about gun owners' rights (to which I say, that is irrelevant here).

Can you explain to me more why it is "immoral" for the paper to republish this information? All the responses I've seen so far speak to potential harms (thugs may target permit holders for their guns/non-permit holders for their lack of defense, or people may be dissuaded from applying for a permit, etc) but none of those is a moral issue. They are all practical.

(I know I didn't address your argument that the publication of the list was immaterial to the article, but I'm not "avoiding" it. I've just rambled on long enough for now.)

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 12:26 PM

OD - I believe that choosing to widely distribute information that you know could increase the risk of others coming to harm is a moral issue.

Posted by: Tim Peterson | March 21, 2007 1:17 PM

My concern about CCW permits is that anyone is capable of shooting someone else when sufficiently enraged, and the temptation to do so will be right there on the person's hip. I've always read that a majority of the handgun deaths stem from arguments or confrontations.

Posted by: Tonio | March 21, 2007 1:41 PM

My God, I have never seen any column/blog elicit so many comments. Let me simply say that CCW is on the long list of reasons I would NEVER live in the Commonwealth of Virginia. You people are CRAZY!!!!

Posted by: Freestater | March 21, 2007 1:43 PM


Posted by: Gun-owning Glen | March 21, 2007 1:49 PM

Mr. Peterson:

I do not think it is a moral issue, because (1) I don't think "widely" is what concerns you, I think the actual distribution is what concerns you, which is the government's job to fix, not the paper's, and is not a moral issue but a policy question, and (2) your claims that the information (which was already available prior to the paper's publication) only "could" harm others is specious. I think that's just too remote and theoretical to justify the newspaper not publishing this information (all information published by the newspaper could harm a lot of people, but we publish it because it has benefits to government and society).

Now if you could PROVE to me that it WOULD DEFINITELY harm others, and that harm outweighs the benefits of an open, democratic government, I might join you in asking the legislature to change the law. Otherwise, I think you're basically arguing for a fascist state, and I don't want to live in a fascist state.

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 2:09 PM

there is no right to privacy when you apply for a governmental permit, for guns, or for a building permit, or whatever. My local paper lists building permit applications every week. It lists home sales every week, showing seller and buyer name, address, and sales amount. There is not right to privacy with these concerns, nor is there for gun permit holders. If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.

Posted by: cosmic mojo | March 21, 2007 2:11 PM

"Which is the reason I also avoided your other examples. For instance, Tim Peterson points out that before Rape Shield Laws, it was legal to publish victims' names but many publications decline to do so (apparently on moral grounds). I can see the moral argument there. I cannot see how it is immoral to publish names of people licensed by the state to do something. It may be personal or private information, but it is not confidential. It is public."

thanks for the response. This paragraph is a good illustration of why I'm pursuing this.

You say that you can see the moral argument that applied prior to the rape shield laws. But the exact same argument you're making now could have been made then. Publishing the names of rape victims might have involved "personal or private information" but it was not "confidential," it was "public."

The moral decision question hinged not on legality, nor on whether or not the information was public.

Your other arguments would have applied as well: people weren't really upset that the names were published in the paper, they were upset that they were public in the first instance. (I'd suggest we not get into "sensitivity" - men accused of rape, and their representatives, made similar arguments here as well.)

You also suggest that potential harms are "practical" issues rather than "moral" issues. But morality isn't divorced from real life. Many people believe in moral absolutes - for instance, that telling a lie is always immoral, or that adultery is always immoral. It's universal, though, for us to understand that some things are immoral because they unfairly harm someone else. So, while I generally have the right to do whatever I want with my property, some uses may be judged immoral if they harm my neighbors. What slumlords and sweatshop owners do is legal because it is immoral - not the other way around.

I get the sense that you simply don't believe that what the paper did was immoral. Maybe you're right. But you can't prove that simply by demonstrating that it was legal, or that the information was already public.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 2:20 PM


If allowing citizens to carry a concealed weapon is the standard you apply for deciding where to live, then you need to move, as MD issues CCW permits, albeit begrudgingly.

Here's the application:

Posted by: Al | March 21, 2007 2:23 PM

What slumlords and sweatshop owners do is ILlegal because it is immoral - not the other way around.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 2:24 PM

" If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide."

Well, cosmic mojo, let's say you've been indicted for child abuse. Let's say you have been acquited (let's even assume you were innocent).

Sure - you have nothing to hide. Are you comfortable with my posting your name & address on the web as part of a list of people who've been accused of child abuse? What if it's in the context of a news story discussing the risk of child abuse, and how parents might protect their kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:37 PM

I don't believe it was immoral for the newspaper to republish the list. At all. At All. Morality isn't divorced from real life, but you seem to want to divorce the morality question from the fact that what the paper did was legal.

As far as I'm concerned, no one has adequately explained to me how it could be understood to be immoral, aside from some specious arguments that these individuals could be targeted for various reasons. As I've said, I don't think those arguments hold water by themselves, and I think they are further undermined by the fact that the information was already available. Anything that could happen as a result of the republication could have happened as a result of someone accessing the information directly from the government.

As far as distinguishing between individuals who actively seek to be licensed by the government to do something (carry a concealed weapon) and an individual who has brought forth accusations of one of the most heinous crimes possible, I don't see any similarities. Apples and oranges. I know Rape Shield Laws are controversial, and I am very uncomfortable with them in theory because they go against everything I believe in. But I also know personally that being raped and having to bring those accusations is not an action that is taken lightly by most people. (Obviously I'm going to ignore the Duke lacrosse case counter-example, which seems to undermine that comment; but I've also said elsewhere that if her accusations were false, that woman has singlehandedly set us back thirty years with regard to how we deal with rape in the legal system and in society. But that case was a Perfect Storm, and a whole other issue.) We have made a practical decision to pass Rape Shield Laws because we think the benefit (promoting victims to come forth with accusations) outweighs the harm (false accusations and protecting the identity of the accuser but not the accused).

I don't see that practical argument here as far as ccw permit holders are concerned, but like I said, if you can make the case for actual harm suffered, I might join you and Mr. Peterson to get the law changed.

And maybe after butting heads for two days, we're just not ever going to agree.

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 2:38 PM

Why the uproar? All of this information is in public records. Some people hear are really paranoid.

Posted by: ChrisMc | March 21, 2007 2:39 PM

"I do not think it is a moral issue, because (1) I don't think "widely" is what concerns you, I think the actual distribution is what concerns you, which is the government's job to fix, not the paper's, and is not a moral issue but a policy question, and (2) your claims that the information (which was already available prior to the paper's publication) only "could" harm others is specious. I think that's just too remote and theoretical to justify the newspaper not publishing this information (all information published by the newspaper could harm a lot of people, but we publish it because it has benefits to government and society)."

1) Just because something is a "policy" question doesn't mean it's not also a moral question. Or is government policy completely unconnected to morality? Do we justify, for instance, programs for the poor and fair labor laws on purely economic grounds, rather than grounds of fairness and morality?

2) Newspapers don't publish every d--n thing that could be published - they pick and choose. You've tried to sneak one past us waaay too quickly here. At best, the only thing we have to justify this is that publishing this information "could" have "benefits to government and society." I would suggest that this is pretty remote and theoretical. All kidding aside, responsible journalism depends on journalists making conscious decisions about what information is relevant, material, and helpful to the public - and no one in the discussion has even made a serious attempt to show how the newspaper's actions have any real public benefit

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 2:49 PM

and, frankly, no one in the discussion has even made a serious attempt to show how the newspaper's actions have any real public harm.

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 2:52 PM

I said CCW is but ONE of a LONG list of reasons I would never live in Virginia.

Posted by: Freestater | March 21, 2007 3:13 PM

"Morality isn't divorced from real life, but you seem to want to divorce the morality question from the fact that what the paper did was legal."

That's right - I do. Not everything that is immoral should be illegal (smoking, for instance, or internet porn). By the same token, not everthing that is legal is moral.

If you're going to equate morality and legality, then we're at an impasse. While there is a huge overlap between the legal and the moral (and between the illegal and the immoral), I'm convinced that the concepts are not identical. If they were, then slavery was moral while it was still legal. Understand, I'm not equating slavery with anything - but I'm convinced that this is the perfect counterexample to the idea that if something is legal, then it can't be immoral.

I'm a bit bemused by your description of the rape shield laws as a "practical" decision. I suspect that's not a very common point of view - the laws were driven by the sense that publishing victims' names was morally unconsionable (which is the same reason many media outlets had chosen not to publish the names).

Where do we agree? I think it's completely fair to weigh potential benefits and harms, and discuss where the balance falls. But not all "practical" desisions are the same. Some have no moral overtones - for example, does the Honda or the Mazda make the most sense for my family? Others, do - for example, does allowing sub-prime interest-only loans help low-income Americans attain home ownership, or does it undermine their financial security?

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 3:16 PM

I'm not equating legality with morality. I understand your slavery example and think it perfectly illustrates your point. I just do not and cannot see what the RT did as immoral. And no one has explained to me how it is. Most have only offered examples of how it could potentially maybe result in some possible bad effects, but most of the examples sound like people have been watching too many episodes of CSI and Law & Order. And again, all of those examples rest on the incorrect assumption that this information wasn't otherwise available.

I don't know, I think we may be just completely miscommunicating on morality. I don't see smoking as a moral issue, although I think it is terribly unhealthy and, but for historical accident, by all accounts should be illegal. I don't think internet porn is immoral, although I am very concerned about how and why the subjects of porn get into the business and their treatment by their employers. But again, I feel like those are practical, and not moral, arguments. Yikes, maybe I am actually just an immoral person...

[That's interesting to know about the Rape Shield Laws. I have only a vague memory of when they were passed; I wasn't paying attention for a variety of reasons. But from law school, I only remember the practical arguments for them, not any moral ones. I personally don't think it's unconscionable to publish the name of a rape victim. I do, however, understand why someone would avoid making an accusation based on societal perceptions of rape victims. Therefore, I understand the utility of the laws. But that's a complete aside.]

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 3:31 PM

"and, frankly, no one in the discussion has even made a serious attempt to show how the newspaper's actions have any real public harm."

I'd disagree with that (but won't arm-wrestle you over it; this is one on which reasonable people can disagree). The harms are potential - certainly in the sense that we don't yet know if any have materialized - but plausible enough that it seems fair to me that reasonable people would be concerned to see their names on the list.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 3:35 PM

But weren't people's names already on that list? Shouldn't they not have been surprised their names were on the list?

I mean, I'd be surprised if, say, the WPost published a list of every registered voter in the area, but I wouldn't really be surprised to see my name on the list or that upset that the Post decided to publish the list.

Again, I think this goes back to whether you think the list should be public information in the first instance. If you think that the RT should not have published it, I think you also have to argue that it should not be public information that anyone can ask Virginia for. I don't understand the wrongness or danger in taking that step from "public information available at the courthouse" to "public information available in the newspaper."

My arrest record used to be available only by going down to the courthouse, but now you can just search the internet. Maybe I wish that weren't the case, but it's there and I don't think there's any real harm in it (and that's me being accused of something bad, not me being licensed to do something good).

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 3:43 PM

"I'm not equating legality with morality."

I'm fine then - but I would suggest that you need to add something more to your argument than a) the republication was legal, and b) the information was already public if you want to show that it was morally unobjectionable. Showing that it had a real benefit to the public, and that no harm can be expected to the individuals involved, for instance.

"Yikes, maybe I am actually just an immoral person..."

I do get the sense that you have an instinctively utilitarian philosophy of life. That would explain why we've had some difficulties communicating - I'm very definitely not a utilitarian. Tell me, if you don't mind my asking - do you tend to judge whether or not something is moral based on whether or not it is practical or workable? Or do you generally just find questions of morality to be beside the point? These aren't views that I share, but they'd be very consistent with a utilitarian world view.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 3:44 PM

"My arrest record used to be available only by going down to the courthouse, but now you can just search the internet. Maybe I wish that weren't the case, but it's there and I don't think there's any real harm in it (and that's me being accused of something bad, not me being licensed to do something good)."

Yeah, but I can imagine it being used in ways that would be terribly unfair and harmful. Again, using the fact that someone's been accused of child abuse, or rape, or something else in a way to suggest guilt and harm their reputation. Of course, we do have libel laws - but facts can be used in a way that's suggestive without rising to the level of libel or slander. Sometimes you can tell a big lie simply by using a number of little truths in a creative way. In my mind, that's immoral - even if it's legal.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 3:50 PM

OD - A couple/few things:

A. First and foremost, I've been described many ways, including minarchist, anarchist, and libertarian, but no one's ever suggested that I have fascist leanings.

B. Secondly, we may never agree, but I'm enjoying this civilized discourse, and am happy to continue.

C. Your justification of the publication of the list - that it isn't immoral because no one has yet been concretely harmed chills me. It is, IMO, akin those who would argue that the PATRIOT Act is ok because it hasn't directly affected them (yet).

D. A question: As a member of the bar, do you think acting negligently or with "reckless disregard," is morally acceptable if no one is actually harmed by said action?

E. I happen to think that new laws are not the answer to this. I'm as strong a believer in Amendment I as I am the 2nd and the 8 that follow them. As far as I'm concerned, the press shouldn't legally be fettered in any way from reporting licensing records, of any sort. That doesn't mean I believe they're right to do so.

It's somewhat tangential, but I'm also a proponent of Vermont/Alaska-style concealed carry laws - If you're mentally sound and not a criminal, I don't think you should need permission to protect yourself. I mention this only because if I were king ;) , this wouldn't be an issue at all, because there wouldn't be a database to argue over.

Posted by: Tim Peterson | March 21, 2007 3:56 PM

I can imagine the ccw permit list being used in ways that would be terribly unfair and harmful, just as you can imagine arrest records being used that way. But I guess in addition to my utilitarianism, I also believe that the default position for government information should be openness. So I believe the burden is on those seeking to stop the publication of this list to prove that it will cause more harm, rather than on me to show that it had a real benefit to the public. I think when the government does something -- like license someone to carry a concealed weapon -- the default position should be to have that as public information. There can be exceptions (someone mentioned undercover cops), but those exceptions would have a balancing test -- the public interest is greater served by keeping the identity of undercover cops non-public.

Generally, I do not find questions of morality to be beside the point. I think slavery is and was wrong, even when it was legal (I'm not going out on a limb by too much, obviously, but to stay with your example). My understanding of "all men are created equal" trumps any protections that slavery enjoyed under the Constitution prior to the passage of the 13th Am. But I do have trouble agreeing with people that something is "immoral" if they can't make any arguments as to some actual harm that will result from it. Just because you label it immoral does not make it so. I guess that's where my utilitarianism comes in.

I'll repeat: I think this goes back to whether you think the list should be public information in the first instance. I don't understand the wrongness or danger in taking that step from "public information available at the courthouse" to "public information available in the newspaper." So the "immoral" action would be by Virginia, then by the RT.

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 4:05 PM

Hell, I've got nothing else going on at work. I'll bite:

C. Well, I think the PATRIOT Act has harmed a lot of people, we're just not allowed to know about it. Which I think also supports my view that this information should be public, because, simply put, secrets = bad.

D. As a member of the bar, I'm going to give you a lawyer's answer. The definition of negligence and "reckless disregard" -- if I remember my torts correctly -- presupposes some harm. Right? I can't be held negligent for doing something that doesn't cause an actual harm. Otherwise, how do you determine damages? (I could be misremembering torts, though; I learned torts, and then quickly reorganized all of its principles in my mind to how torts law would be if I were king.) Generally, though, because of my own "libertarianism", something cannot be immoral if there is no harm. That which neither picks my pocket nor breaks my bone is of no concern to me.

E. But what's the harm in the press reporting licensing records if the government also publicizes the exact same information?

I don't really have a problem with the Vermont/Alaska rule. Two caveats, however: (1) both of those are extremely rural states, and I have lesser concerns about concealed weapons in lesser populated areas; (2) I don't really care about the 2d Am. I'm not a huge gun control person, but I also have not shot a gun in probably ten years, so I do not have a horse in the gun rights/control debate at all. I'm coming at this strictly from an open government point of view.

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 4:18 PM

"But I do have trouble agreeing with people that something is "immoral" if they can't make any arguments as to some actual harm that will result from it."

That seems like a pretty classic utilitarian statement. Broadly speaking, I disagree - adultery is wrong whether or not it turns out that anyone is actually harmed.

"Just because you label it immoral does not make it so."

This is, of course, quite true.

"I don't understand the wrongness or danger in taking that step from "public information available at the courthouse" to "public information available in the newspaper.""

Here's where we talk about the practical effect, how the information is framed, and what the intent is. I do think it's a bit naive to suggest that a list available at the courthouse has the same impact as one published by a newspaper with an accompanying article.

"So the "immoral" action would be by Virginia, then by the RT."

No real disagreement with you here.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 4:35 PM


So I was just thinking. I'm going to break down the supposed harms of the RT publishing this list into two categories:

(1) The abusive ex-husband stalking the secretly armed ex-wife example. If someone who already wants to attack a specific ccw permit holders' home, he must already have some specific information on that person. But if he is already motivated enough to do her harm before the RT publishes it, he could just waltz down to the courthouse and obtain the very same information. Then he commits the harm. RT publishes or not, same result.

(2) The list inspires the crime example. Some random criminal is reading the paper and inspired to commit a crime based on the information in the list. But the list alone cannot be enough to inspire someone to commit a crime, can it? I mean, there has to be some criminal predisposition. And if they are already criminally predisposed, couldn't they also go down to the courthouse and obtain the very same information, then commit the harm? We can't live our lives avoiding setting off possible crazies, can we? Nevermind that the list is only of those individuals who have been licensed to carry a concealed weapon. I could have seven rifles in my home, so any criminal that decides to rob my house because he assumes I am unarmed isn't making a very good decision. And if you respond, "well criminals are dumb," then I say, I don't think we should be making policy decisions or even news decisions based on the possible actions of unreasonable and unpredictable people.

Other examples I'm missing?

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 4:37 PM

I think the real hot button for people is the implication that you're a threat to your neighbors because you're armed - and that it will change the way they view you and relate to you. This isn't the same thing as getting shot, but social opprobrium can be real and is important to people.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 4:43 PM

Demos: I WIN!!! Haha, I'm just kidding. Sort of. But I am glad that you agreed that the harm is actually from the information being publically available from Virginia. That has been the crux of my argument all along. I don't discount that it becomes more widely available once the RT publishes it, but at that point, you're just talking about degrees of harm. (I'm not going to defend the quality or tone of the article itself, although I think both of those did more to cause people to get upset than the actual publication itself.)

I disagree with your characterization of adultery being immoral even if there is no harm. But with adultery, there is always a harm. The adulterous party has violated the marital agreement (whether civil or religious). Even if the other spouse never learns, it always affects the dynamic of the closed, two-person relationship. So it's immoral because there is a harm. I'm still trying to think of something that is immoral and yet causes no harm to anyone. (Even the strictly religious morals that I can think of cause harm to the relationship between the sinner and God.)

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 4:45 PM

Demos, I'm struggling with the social opprobrium example. Now I completely see your point of view. On the one hand, I think the neighbors' attitude reflects a wider problem than just publication stemming from general social attitudes towards guns (which we can discuss, but is another tangent). On the other hand, I can totally sympathize with that concern.

But I think I'm going to fall back on my "consequences be damned, let the public know everything the government does" attitude. Now, if you and Tim Peterson want to argue that the government has no place licensing citizens to exercise their constitutional rights, I have no leg to stand on (or, I have to switch to gun control arguments that I don't necessarily believe in myself). But so long as the government is directly involved, taking the active step of licensing people, I think I'm going to maintain that any harm is outweighed by the benefit of the public knowing.

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 4:57 PM

"I don't discount that it becomes more widely available once the RT publishes it, but at that point, you're just talking about degrees of harm. (I'm not going to defend the quality or tone of the article itself, although I think both of those did more to cause people to get upset than the actual publication itself.)"

I guess I win too (haha, just kidding too, sort of). Seriously, I don't think anyone has denied that the source of the harm originates with the Commonwealth. But creating additional harm is bad, too - and given that no one knew that the information was available, the newspaper pretty dramatically increased the exposure of the information.

I think you're getting pretty close to a tautology by talking about one harming his relationship with God. "It's immoral, so it damages my relationship with God, so there's actual harm, so it is therefore immoral." To put a finer point on it, traditional Christian ethics would argue that it is always immoral to lie - even if the lie is told in order to achieve a worthwhile end. Some means cannot be justified by any end. I suspect this is a point on which we'll simply end up disagreeing, though.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 4:59 PM

"But I think I'm going to fall back on my "consequences be damned, let the public know everything the government does" attitude."

Hey, I understand that point of view - it's one that has a great deal of personal appeal to me. Frankly, if the paper had been pursuing some real governance issue here - for instance, abuse of the permitting process, permits issued to people who should not qualify, refusal to issue permits to people who did qualify, failure to properly investigate applicants, permits going to people outside the legislative intent of the statute, etc. - then I would be with you.

But this seems to be a case of "look how clever we are - we can shine a light!" rather than "hey, look over here at the problem we found!"

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 5:05 PM

No, I don't think my argument was a tautology. I just threw that in there to protect against you coming back with "not going to church on Sunday is immoral but there's no harm to anyone." And I would just say that it is immoral because it harms my relationship with God.

Also, if the source of the harm was Virginia, and no one knew it, then maybe the RT was actually a source of good (given that they have since removed the list). In that now everyone who opposes it being public can just get the NRA to go down to Richmond and twist some arms to get it made non-public.

I'm sure they'd have the time. It's not like they're doing anything about the transportation problems around the state.

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 5:09 PM

Well, the relationship with God question dives into deeper theological waters than I have energy for at the end of the day. A key question religious thinkers have wrestled with is whether things are immoral/sinful God arbitrarily defines them as such (e.g., could he have required adultery, and if he had, would fidelity in marriage then be immoral?), or whether there is something more fundamental going on.

Let's not go there.

Can things turn out well despite how they are intended? Heck, yeah. Couples have overcome infidelity, and strengthened their marriages in the process. That's a great outcome - it doesn't justify the affair, though.

But then, that's easy for me to say - I'm not a utilitarian.

Posted by: Demos | March 21, 2007 5:24 PM

Guns and God. Look at Fisher bringing us all together!

Posted by: OD | March 21, 2007 5:32 PM

Thanks to Christian Trejbal future Sunshine Weeks will have a lot less to celebrate. Virginia is certian to protect this data and much more personal infomation. That is a very good thing.

As for Marc, what other parts of the Consitution do you have issues with? Oh, that's right, you can't be honest and say you don't agree with the Second Amendment! You have to be dishonest and claim the Second Amendment means something you do agree agree with.

Posted by: Nolonger Silent | March 21, 2007 7:11 PM

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Marc Fisher (202) 244-1291 4610 47th St NW, Washington, DC 20016

From the article:
"Trejbal made no effort in his original piece to criticize the carrying concealed weapons law or permitting process. He simply did what any citizen can and should do--take existing public records and make them easily accessible.",+WASHINGTON,+DC+20016

Posted by: im4rkba | March 22, 2007 2:20 PM

I think he should have published the list without the NAMES. Attaching the names to the addresses means even people who aren't your neighbors know you are packing heat. Besides, people will always be instantly suspicious of any internet-based database that has names and address combined. Heck, some people are afraid of google maps!!!

Posted by: Bart | March 22, 2007 3:52 PM


Well, you, Demos and Tim have been having a high level discussion and that's often rare on forums. I forgive you for yelling at me too. It's not as cut and dried as you're arguing.

You wrote; " So I believe the burden is on those seeking to stop the publication of this list to prove that it will cause more harm, rather than on me to show that it had a real benefit to the public."

To that I would say does it take an actual crime for you to change your mind? You're a very bright person - use your imagination and project forward in time. The paper helped put these potential victims at greater risk. It may not come to pass, but the chances are higher. That outweighs trumpeting from on high the names on the list. Any concerned citizen in Virginia, if they care to know, can access the list.

You also made the comment, " And if they are already criminally predisposed, couldn't they also go down to the courthouse and obtain the very same information, then commit the harm?" And the answer is yes, they could. But why make it easier for them? I think the police keep records of who accesses these records (btw, I live in Kentucky where these lists are not legally available to the public and remain the purvue of the state police, who whenever they make a traffic stop and run a plate know if the owner of the car is a CCW holder) and any criminal who did so would be exposing themselves to investigation. Not so with the paper's publication.

I believe in open government too, but the police agencies responsible for accrediting CCW holders can adequately carry out the law without newspapers doing what the Roanoke Times did.

It has been said that a get tough on crime conservative is a liberal who's been mugged. As a libertarian-minded person like Tim I don't like the old labels. Maybe we should change that to read, "A get tough on crime, pro-gun citizen is an anti-gun citizen who's been mugged".

What would it take for you to agree the paper shouldn't have published this information? A creep testifying in court he got the name of his victim from the paper? I prefer never to hear those words uttered and definitely do not see a greater good to society by publishing these lists.

Knee-jerk anti-concealed carry folks fail to realize that CCW holders have been vetted through the application process and understand the responsibility inherent in carrying a gun. No criminals allowed - or wife beaters - or druggies or drunks. The crime rate among the nation's CCW holders over the past 10 years is incredibly low - a tiny statistical blip compared to the population at large. Rather than fear us, all of you who choose not to prepare yourself for the worst should be happy the real bad guys are being deterred by us, who look and act just like you, but who are armed. For all they know, you could be too, and they may just move on and spare you their particular ray of sunshine.

One day, with more law-abiding citizens taking the opportunity to safeguard their own safety, perhaps a criminal will attack one of you unarmed "it can't happen to me" personalities. Maybe a CCW holder will courageously step forward, at great risk to him or herself both physically and legally, and stop that attacker from maiming or killing you and/or your family.

The least you can do is respect their privacy.

Posted by: Dirk | March 22, 2007 6:08 PM

Should we also publish the names and addresses of those who carry cigarette lighters (arson), box cutters (airplanes into buildings), knives (OJs)?

Posted by: doug | March 22, 2007 10:00 PM

For one thing, the whole permit system is unconstitutional. People ought to be able to carry whatever they want, so long as they are not harming others. Secondly, it's nobody else's business.

Posted by: charlie | March 22, 2007 10:02 PM

The article was published for one reason, i.e., to discourage persons from getting a permit. Liberals say that they don't want people to carry concealed, because they want to know who is carrying. Yet, when people open carry, the same liberals are appalled at the sight of open carry. Just as nonsensical as many arguments made by the left.

Posted by: watson | March 22, 2007 10:07 PM

The federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act makes driver license & motor vehicle registration data non-public.

It's time to follow the lead of other states and do same with the VA concealed handgun permit list - or simply do away with the need to have a permit to carry concealed!

Mike Stollenwerk
OpenCarry dot org

Posted by: Mike Stollenwerk | March 22, 2007 10:20 PM

ok the information was public record but the person wanting the information will have to pay for it. the roanoke times published it for free and that is wrong because the criminals had access to it and did not have to pay for it. now how many criminals would go to the court house and pay for the information, NONE for fear of being arrested. now mr fisher how many guns do you own and how many of them is legal.

Posted by: you dont need to know | March 22, 2007 11:12 PM

Mr. Fisher,

While I know this will never see the light of day, as a native of this area I just had to respond to this one. It is articles like this that keep me from subscribing to your paper.

I don't really understand how you got so much of the factual information wrong for this story but you did. Trejbal did not publish a list of permit holders "in his area" as you said, he posted a list for the entire state. Hardly a service to his local readers as you said.

You failed to mention that in his article, he feels that permit holders should be treated like "Convicted sex offenders". Some how you think that comparison would not bother people so you fail to mention it? In a subsequent article the Times reported that Trejbal's article was "about guns". That seems to be very clear that despite his complaints and your testimonial to the contrary that his article was about guns. He even says in the article that "there are plenty of reason to question the ownership of guns". Yet another factual error in your story, and hardly the resounding objectivity you want to attribute to him.

You say he did nothing to augment the data. Again you are wrong. This data is not available is a searchable state wide electronic format for public review. That is until he had it converted and had the software written.

You seem to completely ignore the crime victims and court witnesses, that were advised by police to move to a new location, get the required training, get the permit and a firearm for the protection of themselves and their families. Those are the addresses he published. And what about the judges, police, and professional witnesses that get threats every day putting the criminals in jail to protect you? He published their home addresses too. What about the safety of their families?

If you do not think that this stupid act did not endanger the lives of actual people, you are sadly wrong. You should read ALL of the comments on the Roanoke Times web site. More than just a few were battered women with children trying to escape abusive boy friends and spouses. As a member of the law enforcement community I can tell you these are true stories. I thought one of the flagship issues for the Post was battered women's rights. How does posting their new addresses help them? So you support these women being found and beaten again? If these people had to go to the court to access the information there would be a record of that. Not after Trejbal provided them access without the need to visit the courthouse thank you very much.

No you are very wrong about this one. The paper could have just printed or posted the names and cities without the actual house address, and MAYBE you could call that a public service. If the article was about "sunshine" reporting that the records had been tendered would have sufficed. The only public served here is the criminal element who now know where to find guns, and also who is unarmed so they have people to use them on. Brilliant!

You also overlook the fact that in virginia citizens can carry firearms on their hip in the open without a permit. The people who want to conceal a weapon do so to avoid offending others, like yourself. But you ignore the most important thing about the origin of firearms laws like this permit requirement.

All firearms laws in the United States can be traced back to the common racist idea after the civil war that Blacks should be denied access to guns. From my point of view this is one group that NEEDS to arm themselves. You and Trejbal seem to feel differently.

I wish the post would wake up and realize that you can no longer fool everyone with distortions, poor research, and outright falsehoods. It would be just as easy to print ALL the FACTS and tell the actual story. That would be a public service.

This is NOT a free speech issue as you hope to portray it. It is an issue about privacy, and endangering the community. Even though the information can be obtained from the courts, there is a responsibility on the person who obtains it to use it responsibly. That includes protecting the community, not just protecting your own personal agenda.

Any rational person that takes the time to actually look into this will see it for what it was. Trejbal has written a series of articles that have been increasingly caustic and demeaning to the community he is living and writing in. Check out his article "Virginia is for Haters", and let his own words speak for him. He is a bigot, and this article proves it. Research it yourself and prove me wrong. But be adult and responsible enough to admit it if I am right.

Posted by: P Williams | March 22, 2007 11:32 PM

"We the People" do indeed have the right to access those records as long as they remain public. However, I do not subscribe to the belief that the press speaks for "We the People".

I often hear the overused and misused statement from the press that "people have a right to know" throughout the journalistic world on a multitude of issues. While we indeed have that right, we do not necessarily have a need to know and sadly most will just not care because it doesn't affect them personally. Reporters and journalists are not now, nor have they ever been the keepers, custodians or guardians of the people's rights, nor do they speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. The use of that statement is merely self-serving in the interests of "getting the story".

If an individual or other entity expresses a desire or need to gain access to a particular piece of information, for whatever reason, they have legal means to use the FOIA system as necessary and as is their right. But with that right comes responsibility. They must then be responsible custodians of that information.

When Mr. Trejbal received the list, that should have been the end of it. He could have easily written the article stating he received the list and that would have been his victory and the end of the issue. There was no need or purpose served by the wholesale publishing of the list, and doing so was nothing more than a misinformed and malicious attempt to strike out against lawful gun owners. It also may have recklessley endangered some of those CHP holders.

The statement that "the people have a right to know" does not now, nor has it ever empowered the media to act on their behalf, and most certainly not to act irresponsibly to the endangerment of others.

Hey Fisher, I think Sam Adams was speaking of you when he wrote this:

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"
--Samuel Adams

Posted by: Bob Cavalcante | March 22, 2007 11:54 PM

The logic of the left never ceases to amaze me. To put it simply, there is none. Logic never enters the equation when a secular progressive opens his mouth or puts his pen to paper. Although 99.9% of the arguments on this thread are presented very well and apparently represent the majority, your arguments will fall on the deaf ears of the liberal pundits who read them . . . if they even read them at all. Their minds are made up. Don't confuse them with the facts!

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Posted by: RezDuane | March 23, 2007 12:43 AM

For all the people posted here who do not see what is wrong with this whole thing, think of it this way-

The following can all be found or inferred somewhere in the public record so lets post them with their home addresses. Good idea right? People have a right to know.

How about a list of Black citizens
How about a list of abortion doctors
How about a list of new drivers
How about a list of STUDENT drivers
How about a list of girls under 15 and their schools
How about a list of boys 15 and under and their schools
How about a list of all jewish immigrants
How about a list of all Moslem immigrants
How about a list of Christians
How about a list of Rape victims (sorry Trejbal did that one)
How about a list of battered women (he did this one too)
How about a list of future court witnesses in drug crimes
How about a list of Single females living alone (he did these too)
How about a lit of HIV positive people

By your thinking there is nothing wrong with listing any of these people with their home addresses. These can all be gleaned from public records somewhere. After all what harm could it do. We will just put this out there as a public service, and any one that complains ... Well they just don't understand how free speech is supposed to work. All these groups should be proud to be listed, and we want all these people to wear some kind of scarlet letter so we will know who and where they are.

Just as these are all bad ideas for lists to post on the internet, so it is also a bad idea to do this to ANY group of people without their permission. If you think otherwise you are just not thinking.

This is not about public service or freedom of information, or free speach this is about what is just plain irresponsible, and stupid. Only irresponsible and stupid people could possible argue otherwise.

Anyone who isolates and singles out a group for ANY reason for this kind of treatment is a McCarthyist and a fascist, not a liberal. Do you really want to go back to what the Nazi's did in the 1930's?

Posted by: J Walsh | March 23, 2007 12:46 AM

Funnily enough, I am a permit holder, and I've never considered myself "dangerous" or "odd." In fact, I consider myself a generally decent part of society. I hold two degrees, have an excellent job in which I oversee the actions of fifteen fine people (many of whom are permit holders themselves), and heck, I don't even break the speed limit very often.

The reason I choose to carry a gun is because I believe in personal responsibility, and I choose not to allow a criminal to determine my fate. My life is my own, so should I allow an unlawful person to decide if I may live or die? Absolutely not. I have an infinite amount of respect for our country's law enforcement professionals, but they are usually able only to respond to crime, not prevent it. When the police are called, someone -- frequently a kind and just person -- already has been given the label of "victim." My life and my liberty are my own to defend and protect, and those freedoms were guaranteed to me over two-hundred years ago.

Posted by: John | March 23, 2007 5:30 AM

I don't know what Mr. Fisher is talking about. Virginia has shall issue concealed carry; Maryland and D.C. do not. Where would you feel safer walking alone at night, Virginia (e.g., Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington, Alexandria), Maryland (e.g., Prince Georges), or D.C. (e.g., anywhere)? Must be that magic river that divides the jurisdictions.

Posted by: c. manning | March 23, 2007 6:28 AM

I'm not sure why "Soccer Mom's" are using a CCW list as the gold standard for who has guns.

ANYONE can own a gun who is not a felon, and most felons have guns anyways. As your local gunshop how many people buying a gun use their CCW as the "2nd form of ID" -- Now you'll go hide under the bed.

When you dial 911, you're either referred to as a "victim" when filing the report, or "dead" if someone else is filing the report.

Guns are not the problem, but until you can figure a way to ship the felons to Mars, I'm keeping my arsenal.

Posted by: Soccer Moms Fear This | March 23, 2007 6:48 AM

The Roanoke writer can attempt to justify his actions anyway he wants, but his article was aimed at ccw holders, not at the government and the need for transparency. To quote a line from the West Wing, this is about he doesn't like guns, and he doesn't like people who own guns.

If we look at this from a constitutional viewpoint, the right to own guns seems pretty well established, and that fact is being confirmed by the courts every day.

If we look at it from a more practical viewpoint, ccw holders in Virginia must go through an application process and will not receive ccw permits if they have criminal records. Also, if they commit felonies they will forfeit their ccw permit. So, the ccw permit holder in Virginia has already been screened by the State, and there is a large incentive (not losing the ccw permit right) to remain a good citizen.

If we look at things from a logical viewpoint, crime is certainly lower in states with "shall issue" ccw permit laws than in states (or political subdivisions such as D.C.) with "may issue" (NY, CA, MD) or no ccw permit rights. Handguns have been banned in D.C. for quite some time, but for some reason the criminals still seem to find them. How can this be? Having the gun is against the law in D.C, isn't it? So if we passed laws to make handguns illegal in Virginia the D.C. ciminal element will obey it, but won't obey the laws in D.C.?

It may be time to consider laws overriding the constitutional right to a free press for the common good. Some of the press becomes so vehement in its zeal to press for the social policies it advocates, and some of the press has such a bully pulpit, and some of the press so restricts access to anyone not believing as it does (obscure blogs such as this notwithstanding) that maybe the press's rights need to be looked at too.

The Roanoke editorial was nothing but a slap at the ccw holders, not unlike the "Madam" who recently tried to blackmail the courts with the threat of releasing her list of "johns." What folks like the reporter don't understand is that these sorts of actions do more to galvanize gun owners (who vote, and organize, and write letters and contribute to campaigns) than just about anything. I, for one, intend to join the NRA as soon as this letter is complete, and it is totally thanks to the Roanoke editorial and Marc Fisher's sympathetic article, which continued the attack on gun owners.

Posted by: Tim G. | March 23, 2007 7:29 AM

"if your neighbor is prepared to shoot someone who attempts, say, to mug him, you'd certainly want to know about it."

Having a gun for self-defense means for the defense of life from immediate danger. Starting the article with such a intentionally misleading statement (implying that a concealed handgun permit holder is willing to shoot someone in response to any event) provides an obvious clue that this article falls into the "ideological propaganda" category.

At least Trejbal was a little more subtle in jabs at gun owners and concealed carry in his article. Yes, your note that Trejbal did not criticize gun owners or concealed carry is erroneous. To not know this is either being intentionally misleading or naive.

Posted by: Ed Summers | March 23, 2007 8:03 AM

Well, if you would like a list of people with barking dogs, then I would like a list of atheists and homosexuals so I don't have to live next door to immorality.

Posted by: J Peeler | March 23, 2007 10:34 AM

Oh, please. The editor published information that was no one else's business. The fact that the government wrongly made the information available does not excuse the editor's decision to invade the privacy of law-abiding private citizens. The uproar was because the editor chose to invade people's privacy. For the editor to pretend that he is not responsible for his actions because he didn't have to break into a government office to get the information is absurd.

Posted by: Nora | March 23, 2007 1:47 PM

I am really amazed at how many people on this list seem to actually believe ANYTHING that the see in the post. This is especially true when the issue is even remotely related to the gun question.

Many of us have sufficient brain cells to remember Carl Rowan. This infamous Post editorialist, actually shot a person he found swimming in his back yard pool. Thats right. A washington Post employee who attacked private citizens who owned guns at every opportunity and even their right to do so.

So what you say? Well he was a resident of Washington DC. Thats right. He lived in the city. It was not legal for him to own a handgun. Moreover HE SHOT THE KIND FOR SWIMMING IN HIS POOL! Hardly a life threatening act.

His excuse for having an illegal, Unregistered gun in DC, was that it belonged to his son, who was an FBI employee. WHile it is true that certain FBI employees are exempt from the DC gun ban, their family members are not. In fact it was outright illegal for them to transfer the gun between them.

There was a whole cascade of laws broken in this incident, let alone the unjustified shooting of a kid stealing a dip in his pool.

All this while using the Post as a bully pulpit of the post to attack other people for their LEGAL ownership of firearms.

After that how could ANYONE possibly believe anything the Post or any of its employees have to say about guns or the rights of others. They hold themselves about the law, and your rights are simply a figment of your imagination, from their point of view.

For Mr. Rowans part he ant the Post did NOT part ways over this incident. They supported his right to self defense. But they were very quick to assist him in avoiding most of the serious criminal charges in this matter.

They never did condemn his actions in not following DC law, and ignoring the and forgiving a routine college night out prank.

Incredible. This "opinion" piece and it's author are cut from the same elitist cloth, as Rowan was. No morals, no ethics, and no genuine concern for the pain or privacy of others.

Posted by: P Williams | March 23, 2007 8:23 PM

Let one person goof with your rights of the press and you would cry like a baby.

I think all press writers should have theri stats published because they are more dangerous than any pistol permit holder.

Posted by: Bob R. | March 23, 2007 8:31 PM

License journalists. Make sure they have been adequately trained in objective thought processes.

If Trejbal and Fisher weren't so ignorant of the requirements for getting a concealed handgun permit and the use of deadly force, I'd take them more seriously. They should also do their homework and look at the statistics on crime and gun ownership. There is no correlation between legal gun ownership and crime rates. There is a very strong correlation between poverty rates and crime rates. The correlation between illegal immigrant population and crime rates is also strong. Another thing that was completely ignored in Trejbal's screed was that CHP holders make up a rather small portion of gun owners. There's no license to own a gun in Virginia. One could have a .50-caliber machine gun and not have a CHP - they'd have to have a federal class III license, local police approval and a lot of money, but no CHP. In VA, one can also carry openly w/o a CHP. Comparing people who have taken a safety class, been fingerprinted and had a background check through the FBI to people who have been convicted of sex offenses is defective reasoning and really poor journalism.

To listen to a lot of journalists, DC is the safest place in the world with a murder rate in the 40 per 100k range because of its gun bans, but Arlington and Fairfax Counties with their murder rates of less than 5 per 100k are a war zone because of concealed handgun permits and legal open carry.

To listen to the DC city government, the crime rates are high because of guns from VA and MD. Yet these guns weren't much of a problem in VA and were only a problem in PG County, but not Montgomery County before coming into DC. The problem could never be due to inept city government and a dysfunctional legal system. Could it?

Posted by: DangerousDave | March 24, 2007 11:23 AM

"gun toters" uh huh...
"Because the Government handles the permitting"... Thus violating the non infringement promised in the second amendment. And creating a 'List' of private citizens that can be used by unscrupulous individuals or organizations for their own agendas. Dont say it cant or will not happen. It just did!

Posted by: Mojo | March 24, 2007 4:50 PM

Well I'm not going to bash the journalists because they obviously have no clue. For all of my fellow citizens that choose to practice their 2nd amendment right, keep in mind that the people that you are arguing with are the same media people that say "guns kill people". So please, everyone watch you guns because they just may go off and kill someone. Personally I have had to hire a nanny to watch mine because the other night I woke up and found that they grew legs and were walking around the house. If we are going to publish peoples' information because it is public record, why don't we just post EVERYONE'S information. Age, Race, Sex, Address, Phone Number, Sexual Preference, Income, Vehicle Information etc. Then we can all be on a level playing field. If you can't tell I'm sick of the twists that the media puts on everything, not just the twists on guns but the twists on Police involved shootings, Police making arrests and accused of violating someone's civil rights and like magic it just happens to be caught on tape. BUT the media will only show you the part of the video that meshes well with their twist to the story! Talk about agendas, you guys should do some serious reporting like find out the real agenda of our government and all of it's dirty little secrets! Now that would be reporting!

Posted by: J.W. | March 24, 2007 9:15 PM

CHP's are the good guys. They have to be law abiding, trained and fully registered. The Roanoke times found it is much easier to post thier names than the "Bad Guys" who do not register and have illegal guns. How about posting criminal records... CHP's will not be on that list.

Posted by: Brian | March 24, 2007 9:19 PM

Well Mr. Fisher. The Roanoke Time is grateful for your support, and they thanked you for it by using your column to support their own. Of course this relationship between you is more like the production of inbred children that truth in publishing. So here are my thoughts on their "apology".

Opportunities Lost-

The Roanoke Times had the opportunity to perform a public service on March 11, 2007. Somehow they never saw it and instead chose to attack a significant number of citizens of this state. What a surprise, that by the Times own assessments, the negative reaction was the largest in the history of the Paper. What a surprise that some of those responses might be openly hostile. When you endanger people lives, attack their right to peaceably exercise their rights in society, and imply that they should be treated like the most heinous of criminals, you might expect a strong reaction. Ignore their pleas to be heard, and they might react poorly to that as well. And so it was that the Times itself created the situation, and then was outwardly shocked and paralyzed that it occurred.

As this opportunity slipped away, it was followed by a series of other lost opportunities to do something positive. They too either went unnoticed or were simply ignored. What is truly astounding about this is the failure to analyze what has actually happened here and correctly gage the effects and respond correctly to the reaction. This after two weeks of reflection on issues that literally hundreds of thousands of others saw right off the moment the list appeared.

Of course none of this is really a surprise to the Times. The Times and Mr. Trejbal knew exactly what they were doing when they published this material, and the reaction was as predictable as the coming of the seasons, or the rising of the sun every day. The true surprise they felt was that more people saw it for what it was than they had predicted, and that many of their usual supports also found the act reprehensible. Someone at the Times actually thought this whole thing would be a really good idea or they would never have done it.

This morning, I see yet another lost opportunity. Here was a real chance for the Times to take responsibility for a number of COLOSSAL missteps, errors, and what is at its core acts of out right bigotry and terrorism, and take steps to fix the problem. Any reasoning person sees this situation for what it is, and will not be fooled by the Times response.

If you think I am wrong or over stating what has happened here, look it up for your self- defines "Bigot" as-
"Person extremely intolerant of others and irrespective of reasoning. " defines "terrorism" as-
"Any act including, but not limited to, the use of force or violence and/or threat thereof of any person or group(s) of persons whether acting alone or on behalf of, or in connection with, any organization(s) or government(s) committed for political, religions, ideological or similar purposes, including the intention to influence any government and/or to put the public or any section of the public in fear."

I was not surprised that the "apology" turned out to be more table pounding about the right of the news paper to publish anything it wants. This was stated more than once in this supposed "apology". This then allows them to gratuitously dismiss the core issues, ignore the true pain they have inflicted, and sweep the entire matter under the rug. This theme runs so strongly through every official comment by the Times, that their belief in the concept blinds them to the true issues here.



The issues are SHOULD you have published this particular material in the way you did? SHOULD you have concealed your actual purpose to do so? SHOULD you have allowed Mr. Trejbal to use his bigotry to attack the most lawful group of Virginians in the state? SHOULD you have concealed your identity when you obtained it. SHOULD you have linked these people with sex offenders?

We have a few opinion writers and lawyers, with preexisting relationships with Mr. Trejbal, who after solicitation by he and the Times have commented on all this. Not surprisingly these "Opinions for hire" share his political agenda, and support the publication. But we also have a larger more objective and therefore more credible group of answers to these questions, in the form of a long series of professional ethics experts without prior relationships, who have stepped up to unanimously condemn this act as ethically, socially and morally wrong. What we don't have is any hint of answers from either the Times or Mr. Trejbal.

Many will read todays splash of letters and articles, and say to themselves "Well the Times really took responsibility and they even apologized, what your problem?"

Unfortunately those people would be wrong. Their conclusion is based on a not so careful MIS-reading of a VERY carefully crafted, series of articles designed to sidestep the core issues and avoid doing what would be done by any responsible company, who grasps the true issues here. What they have missed is that this is propaganda, NOT an "apology".

The publication of yet another article by Mr. Trejbal in which he himself admits that he is not only prejudiced against those of different faiths and lifestyles than his own, but that he acts against individuals on that hate, is astonishing by itself. Yet more hate and bigotry. But in the face of what has happened over the last two weeks it is an appalling validation by a news organization of bigotry and hate mongering, and it negates any thought that the TIMES is sincere in apologizing. In this diatribe, Mr. Trejbal continues to single out groups of people to demonize, who are exercising their LAWFUL rights, and talks about how he punishes them because he finds their rights to be less important than his own. This is a consistent hallmark and common theme of ALL of his writings. Look at his history on this website for your self.

In the mix here is the incident at Mr. Trejbal's home involving the delivery of a package of mailing labels. If it turns out that this was an act intended to terrorize him or his family, I hope the individuals involved are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and for the record I was among the first to condemn that kind of behavior or other threats of any kind.

However, I suspect that this was not the intentional act of Mr. Trejbal's attackers, but instead either a mis-delivery, or a memory lapse on his part. If it was an intentional harassment the authorities would have acted swiftly to deal with the problem. The package can be traced to its source.

That said, Mr. Trejbal and the Times have failed to take his experience, yet another missed opportunity, and how it made him feel and use it to better understand that this is how they made a lot of other people feel with their publication. Many of those who's names they published felt REAL terror for REAL reasons based on REAL threats in their lives. Somehow the Times and Mr. Trejbal, just do not get the concept that THEY DID THIS SAME THING TO REAL PEOPLE. They do not understand that by fostering an environment of Bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and incivility through Mr Trejbal's writings, they have become the root cause of these deplorable attitudes in the community.

Well, I hope the Times will understand if a large number of Virginians follow their conscience in this matter and refuse to sanction this behavior. For their part they will continue to both promote, and engage in, a boycott of Times advertisers until the the core issue in this current situation is fixed. That issue is the continued employment of a morally bankrupt, bigoted, hate monger, and the publication of his attacks on the law-abiding honest citizens of Virginia. Only the Times can defuse this situation, through proper actions to eliminate the problem. I see yet another missed opportunity on the horizon.

Posted by: P Williams | March 25, 2007 5:50 PM

Normally I disagree with Marc, but in principle, this time he is right. There should be very few government documents, at the state level, that should not be easily and cheaply accessible to the masses. By and large, government documents are "The People's" documents.

Arguing that some harm MAY come from publishing the list is just as invalid as arguing some people with guns MAY break the law and therefore the state should prohibit firearms ownership. Both are true statements, no doubt somebody will use the list for evil, just as some gun owners will commit crimes. Nevertheless, that fact is irrelevant. The People have a nearly absolute right to their government's records just as The People have a fundamental right to have and bear arms. Secrecy in national security is a no-brainer, when it really is only national security info that is being kept secret. Unfortunately, more state information is correctly falling under that heading, what with Islamofascists seeking to attack civilian "Targets" in the US. Absent a COMPELLING state interest in keeping something secret, all documents should be open to the public. Period. That includes documents that might prove to be embarrassing or painful to individuals or their families (The Martin Luther King, Jr. FBI files; JFK or Challenger crew autopsy info; and arrested "High-class" madam's customer list come to mind in that category). The acceptable reason for withholding government records from The People should be limited to protecting society, as a whole, as opposed to protecting an individual or group of individuals. Any exceptions more expansive than that will be abused by government and/or its bureaucracy.
BTW, I'm on the CCW list and while I don't like it known that I carry, I assumed at the time that the CCW records would be accessible at some time. For those of you who want to do something constructive about protecting your Second Amendment rights in the federal parks, see the following sites and then Take Action!:

Posted by: Virginian | March 28, 2007 9:08 AM

Actually, we all owe Mr. Trejbal a debt of gratitude! As any good Quality Manager realizes that to get down to the core of any problem, you must conduct a "Root Cause Analysis". Through his misinformed, bigoted and irresponsible behavior, perpetuated and published by the Roanoke-Times, Mr. Trejbal, thinking he was doing some grand service to the public by publishing this list, has actually exposed weaknesses in our system!

The first problem that's plainly obvious is that the CHP list should not be allowed to be published and should not be public information for the obvious and already overstated safety and the "greater good".

Here's an interesting angle that has not yet been explored. I don't think that it should be a public document at all because I PAID for the processing of that CHP! If the taxpaying public's money and the government's time were used, that would be different, but the law makes if clear that I PAY for this service ABOVE AND BEYOND what my taxes pay for.

Mr. Trejbal's taxes did not pay for any part of my CHP, I did! I paid for the time to process it, for the filing fees and for the background check. Those are services that Virginia and the county have agreed to let me pay for.

Here's the extract from the Virginia State Police webpage

"The court shall charge a fee of $10.00 for the processing of an application or issuing of a permit. Local law enforcement agencies may charge a fee not to exceed $35.00 to cover the cost of conducting an investigation pursuant to this Code section. The State Police may charge a fee not to exceed $5.00 to cover the cost associated with processing the application. The total amount of the charges may not exceed $50.00, and payment may be made by any method accepted by the court."

And the extract from the Fairfax County Web Site

Filing Fee:
• $50.00 (including $10.00 Clerk's fee; $5.00 State Police fee; and $35.00 Local Law Enforcement fee = $50.00).
• Payable by cash, money order, Visa or Master Card.
• Certified check payable to "Clerk, Fairfax Circuit Court."
• Personal Checks are not accepted.

You may argue that you pay for a driver's license also, should that be private information? ABSOLUTELY! Anything, whether processed by the government or not, that an individual pays for should NOT be in the public domain and therefore exempt from FOIA. It's time to mature and grow this process, folks.

The next problem I see in all this is that journalists (and their publishers) need to be more responsible with their words. They need to stop thinking about recklessly throwing out stories that may have a huge negative effect on public opinion for the sake of deadlines, readership and advertising revenue. There is so much more to journalism that just that and more to America than mere capitalism. Journalism is an unlicensed public trust. The fact that the First Amendment IS the very first in our Bill of Rights speaks to the genius design of our Founding Fathers to ensure that the tongue and pen were the first choice of weapons against a tyrannous government and the armed citizenry provided for in the Second Amendment was the second choice. It is this way by design.

Too many people, in discussing this issue have made the comparison of a CHP to a driver's license, or even a vehicle registration. I disagree. I think it's more like a motorcycle license and a gun is more like a motorcycle itself. Before you bikers flame me, hear me out.

Most everyone has a driver's license for motor vehicles, but not everyone has or feels the need for a motorcycle (gun). Some people may be afraid of motorcycles (guns) because they're very powerful. Some may be afraid because they've have heard of many horrible motorcycle (gun) accidents. Perhaps they've seen motorcycles (guns) being used irresponsibly and think that's representative of all other bikers (gun owners). Perhaps they perpetuate the stereotype that all bikers are in gangs (gun owners are criminals). See the similarities between the stereotypes of motorcycles and guns?

Now I can't help but wonder if Mr. Trejbal would yield to me on the road if I were on an extremely fuel efficient bike?

We are not talking about public records for something such as property or a vehicle that is taxable and DOES provide taxes to the county and state. Those arguments are valid and anyone, through a proper FOIA request can at present request all the tax records they want. We are talking about responsible citizens asking for a greater measure of the public trust by proving they meet or exceed established standards of civil responsibility through criminal background checks and proven weapons training.

Through his misinformed, bigoted and irresponsible opinion and behavior, perpetuated and published by the Roanoke-Times, Mr. Trejbal has in his own contorted way, pointed out a weakness in the system that we must now repair and reinforce. Thank you Mr. Trejbal for bringing these flaws to light and allowing us good responsible Americans to be a part of the solution!

Posted by: Bob Cavalcante | March 31, 2007 11:54 PM

Well, in the county I reside in you go to the Virginia Circuit Court Case Information page and enter the word "Concealed" under the civil division and all the Concealed Carry Permit holders' names are there.

Posted by: Sleuth | April 8, 2007 10:50 PM

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