Outrage After News Channel Helps Public Identify Gun Owners
WRAL characterizes firearms enthusiasts as a “threat akin to sex offenders,” says NC resident
Paul Joseph Watson
News station WRAL has caused outrage amongst gun rights activists by listing address details of firearms owners in Raleigh, North Carolina – prompting critics to complain they are being treated like sex offenders and left open to criminal predation.
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In an article about firearms training, a WRAL.com article homes in on the fact that rural areas have a much higher per capita rate of concealed carry permit holders.
The story also mentions efforts to increase regulation on concealed carry permit holders and quotes Gail Neely, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, who claims that “concealed weapons permit holders aren’t as law-abiding as they are reputed to be.”
However, the part that really has second amendment proponents up in arms is a searchable box that allows the public to identify where concealed carry permit holders live, by typing in the street name, city, county and zip code.
Although concealed carry permit holders cannot be identified down their precise address, in many rural areas there are just a handful of houses on one street, and sometimes just one or two, leaving gun owners open to criminal predation.
As concerned resident David Knight told us via email, “Although street numbers are not shown (yet), as they point out most of the carry permits are in rural areas. On my road for example, there are only 4 home sites. On many rural roads there are only 1 or 2 houses. This information has previously only been available by written request from the State Bureau of Investigation.”
Indeed, when activist group Grass Roots Norths Carolina (GRNC) complained to WRAL, the news station responded by erroneously claiming the data was publicly available, when in fact it can only be obtained via an application to the SBI.
Knight says the news station’s act of helping the public identify gun owners is an attempt to name and shame while suggesting that second amendment advocates “pose a potential threat akin to sex offenders.”
GRNC’s F. Paul Valone wrote an email to WRAL demanding that the search function be removed and that WRAL issue a public apology to gun owners in North Carolina, noting that the group had received dozens of complaints focused around concern that the search box would potentially expose “concealed handgun permit-holders to criminal predation.”
The group also threatened to use its database of 60,000 gun owners to target WRAL’s advertisers for a boycott unless the search feature was removed.
In a follow up conversation, WRAL General Manager Steve Hammel admitted that street numbers had initially appeared for some records before they were removed, but the station refused to withdraw the search function. GRNC responded by providing contact information for numerous people at WRAL as part of an email campaign to boycott the station’s sponsors until the offending item is deep-sixed.
This is by no means the first time that news media organizations or government bodies have attempted to shame gun owners by listing their private details for public inspection.
A similar controversy ensued last year when Illinois’ Attorney General ordered law enforcement to make a list of 1.3 million gun owners available to the media. The New York Times also obtained a list of gun owners in New York City two weeks beforehand.