Sunday, January 26, 2014

Civitas Media Newspaper Chain Considered Publishing Multi-State Gun Permit Holder Database?

The Journal News

On December 22nd, 2012,  The Journal News published an interactive map showing the names, addresses and home locations of all gun owners holding carry permits licensed in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York.

In retaliation, the following day, blogger Christopher Fountain, published the names and addresses of the staffers of The Journal News.

The newspaper and some of its staff responded by hiring armed security to provide personal protection for them and their families.

The staff at The Journal News became worried about reprisals from people who they themselves had put at risk, even in mortal danger, after they published that database of legal gun owners who have carry permits in New York.

Rockland County law enforcement officers condemned the map, saying that it endangered lives, including those of police and corrections officers.

Several newspapers also published reports of victims of domestic violence, rape, or other violent crimes who reported that their attackers now had possession of their addresses as their names were published online.

Newsday has reported that police are investigating if the Journal News pistol permit map played a role in a burglary in White Plains, New York.

According to police, at least two burglars broke into a home on January 12th, 2013, but were unsuccessful in an attempt to open a gun safe, which contained legally owned weapons.

According to records, police authorities are still investigating what role, if any, the Journal News database played in the burglars' decision to target the home. 

The Daily Mail has reported that a burglary has occurred in a similarly mapped home in New City, New York, on January 16th, 2013.

Burglars pried escaped with two handguns, two pistol permits, cash, savings bonds and jewelry. The firearms were in the stolen safe.

It wasn't until January 19th, 2013, the newspaper removed the interactive map, although the information it contained was by then leaked all over the Internet.

The Journal News database was made public for all the wrong reasons. It was done so with the intent of specifically attacking Americans who are "legal" gun owners - Americans who were simply exercising their Constitutional Rights.

Remember, the Gannett-owned Journal News made public a database that they took the time and effort to compile all to attack legal gun owners. Their database gave names, addresses, and detailed maps to the residences of those holding gun permits.

The actions on the part of The Journal News should have angered every American.

While it angered Americans who follow the law and adhere to U.S. laws as stated in the Constitution, those who overwhelmingly said it was an under-handed effort to stigmatize legal gun owners, anti-gun Democrats and other liberals were all for it.

Some law enforcement officials complained that the interactive map which the Journal News published with an article entitled "The gun owner next door: What you don't know about the weapons in your neighborhood."

Their article provided burglars with a roadmap of which homes to avoid and which ones to hit.

The ultra-liberal newspaper nevertheless defended the decision to publish the material, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Then, believe it or not, they had the gaul to try to use the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, as an excuse to put so many Americans in harm's way.

"The massacre in Newtown remains top-of-mind for many of our readers," a Journal News statement said.

"In the past week, conversation on our opinion pages and on our website,, has been keenly focused on gun control. Our readers are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods. We obtained the names and addresses of Westchester and Rockland residents who are licensed to own handguns through routine Freedom of Information law public-records requests."

National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said newspaper-compiled databases of legal gun owners and their permits serve no journalistic purpose.

“There is no legitimate need for any news organization to compile a list of law-abiding citizens who have concealed carry permits,” Mr Arulanandam told Fox News.

“There are serious security concerns. For example, some people who have carry permits have stalkers and these news organizations are essentially providing a lighted pathway to the homes of these individuals."

The Civitas Media Newspaper Chain

Now a year later, the Civitas Media Newspaper chain has a top editor who wants to do the same thing.

Jim Lawitz, Civitas’ Director of Content for The Civitas Media Newspaper chain, wrote an e-mail obtained by the Buckeye Firearms Association, "the database would examine the explosion of ‘conceal and carry’ gun permits across the U.S..” 

Jim Lawitz's Civitas Media memo went on to say, “Through public records act requests, we will attempt to build state-by-state databases that list those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon.” 

Later,  after the memo surfaced, Jim Lawitz tried to downplay the email when reached on Friday, saying the company had "no plans to publish" any lists or databases.

“In news organizations, a variety of ideas routinely are discussed, researched and planned, which may or may not result in published work,” Lawitz told Fox News.

He went on to say, “Typically we do not publicly comment on internal proprietary communication. However, we have no plans to publish any lists or databases of people’s names on conceal and carry.”

But friends, this memo wasn't from some low level liberal reporter, the Civitas Media internal memo was sent by Jim Lawitz who is in fact a top content editor to various editors at Civitas Media.

Let's understand the difference between The Journal News in New York compared to Civitas Media is huge.

The Journal News, owned by Gannett Company, has a circulation of about 84,000.
Civitas Media owns about 100 newspapers in 11 states with more than 1.5 million in total circulation.

The Jim Lawitz Civitas Media internal memo laid out a plan for an enterprise project that would use public information requests to establish the database.

The January 19th, 2014,  Civitas Media memo raised the prospect of a much larger version of a controversial project carried out in 2012 by The Journal News that made public an online map identifying legal gun owners in two counties by name and address.

It seems that some people, such as editor Jim Lawitz, have forgotten how The Journal News defended their actions even as it put people and their families at risk, many in mortal danger.

The database is the personal information of gun owners with permits which allow them to carry concealed weapons and Americans should expect some sense of privacy while exercising their legal rights.

So Did Civitas Media Consider Publishing A Multi-State Gun Permit Holder Database?

The short answer is no.

In an email after Fox News reported the story January 24th, 2014, Civitas President/CEO Michael Bush states that the Jim Lawitz memo should not have been sent and that the notion of such a project had been "rejected" upon consideration.

What sounds a lot like a newspaper chain doing damage control, Civitas President/CEO Michael Bush wrote to Fox News,

"Civitas Media never had any plans or intentions of publishing in print or online lists of holders of 'conceal and carry' permits. Nor will Civitas Media develop databases of permit holders. A poorly crafted internal memo meant to highlight editorial discussions and planning incorrectly indicated that such a database was being planned; it has been considered and rejected.”

Chad Baus, secretary of the Buckeye Firearms Association, told Fox News, that he received the email from a confidential source within the company who was “concerned” about the media group’s plans.

"The goal is to raise awareness because each and every time a newspaper organization does this type of thing, the public reacts very strongly to it,” Mr Baus said.

“There’s no other purpose for creating these lists but to target and victimize gun owners,” Baus told Fox News.

And yes, Chad Baus is absolutely correct.

While you and I see this as common sense in that we should expect some sense of privacy when exercising our legal rights, this is just another example of people in areas of responsibility who do not see things the same as we do.

Any information for bad guys can be used to hurt innocent people who are simply using their rights to defend themselves.

The idea of gun registration, gun owner registration, and databases full of information on us doing nothing illegal has gone way too far.

There is no reason that the government needs to compile and make available data regarding what we are doing when we are not breaking the law.

Liberals see gun owners as the problem. They see our rights to a means of self defense as being unneeded and wrong.

That is, unless it is themselves who need defending. Other than themselves, they don't care what happens - because they believe no one should put up a fight.

Remember, these are the same people who still blame women for defending themselves against it.  They do not recognize a person's rights and needs to self-defense.

So yes, President and CEO of Civitas Media, a national newspaper chain, now says it never intended to publish a multi-state gun permit holder database.

But why was it even considered? Why is it that one of their top editors sees nothing wrong with attacking legal gun owners? And really, why hasn't he been fired?

Lastly, we should be asking, is the database project only cancelled for now, or will Jim Lawitz try to get the database going and publish it in the future?

We should all thank Buckeye Firearms Association and other pro-Constitution organizations for staying vigilant to the likes of those who would attack the rights of law abiding Americans citizens.

Tom Correa

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