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Newspaper CCW project shelved; ‘Gun Talk’ to tackle microstamping

CCRKBA's Alan Gottlieb will discuss the California microstamping fiasco Sunday with Tom Gresham on Gun Talk.
Dave Workman

A proposed editorial project, revealed early today by the Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA), that would have examined the “explosion” of concealed carry permits and licenses across the country by building “a state-by-state database” of permit holders has been shelved by a newspaper chain because many states have laws that prevent release of that information, Examiner has learned.

The Ohio-based BFA revealed a Jan. 19 internal memo this morning outlining the project that was suggested by Jim Lawitz, director of content for the North Carolina-based Civitas Media group. But in a telephone interview, Lawitz said Civitas, which owns more than 100 newspapers and publications in the East and South, discovered that in many states, this information is protected by state law, so the project is off the radar and will not be pursued.

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UPDATE: In a statement to this column via e-mail, Civitas CEO Michael C. Bush said, “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.”

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“In news organizations,” Lawitz said, “a variety of ideas are routinely discussed, researched and planned, which may or may not result in published works. Typically, we do not publicly comment on internal private communications. However, Civitas has no plans to publish any lists of any people.”

After BFA obtained a copy of the internal memo, the organization broke the story early Friday and it was quickly picked up by the Daily Caller and AmmoLand.

Lawitz, who joined Civitas in September, spent more than 30 years in newspapers as a reporter, editor and news executive, in Arizona, Alaska, California and New Mexico.

Public disclosure of the names, and sometimes even addresses, of concealed carry license holders in the past has made gun owners very sensitive to what they believe is a serious privacy invasion. Publication of gun permit holders in two New York counties by a Westchester newspaper following the December 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy, caused a nationwide backlash against the newspaper editor and publisher, and compelled New York state lawmakers to pass legislation making that information private. Similar legislation has been passed in Ohio, where Civitas owns some newspapers, and concealed pistol license information has been private in Washington state for many years.

From all indications, the decision to shelve the project was made earlier this week, before this morning’s revelation.

MEANWHILE, never one to back down from a controversy, Tom Gresham, host of the syndicated “Gun Talk” radio program, will devote a large segment of this Sunday’s program to the California microstamping controversy, and yesterday Bellevue gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb confirmed he will be one of the guests. This column discussed the fiasco.

Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, will appear on the broadcast, along with Ruger CEO Mike Fifer and Smith & Wesson Marketing Director Paul Pluff. The program will air at 2 p.m. Eastern and 11 a.m. Pacific. Check with Gun Talk to find a station near you.

According to Gresham, it is Fifer’s prediction that “within a year or two, they’re (semi-auto handguns) all gone. Everything’s off the list.”

SAF is currently involved in a lawsuit challenging the California law and the regulatory scheme that arbitrarily bans handguns based on a roster of “certified” models approved by the state.

“This statutory requirement is unworkable and firearms manufacturers are saying so in no uncertain terms,” Gottlieb noted in a statement. “California citizens are facing a Second Amendment outrage because of this ridiculous roster, and a technology requirement that has no demonstrable value in crime prevention or firearm safety.”

The controversy erupted earlier this week after Ruger announced that, “We are working hard to serve our customers in California and will do all we can to fight this draconian law. We continue to submit pistols to the independent test lab for testing and those pistols meet all the requirements of California in effect when the pistols first appeared on the Roster, i.e., everything except microstamping. We have been informed by the lab that the CA DOJ will not even consider these “new” pistols for inclusion on the Roster unless they satisfy the microstamping regulations, which numerous studies have found unworkable. Until microstamping is repealed, we expect that Ruger pistols – some of the safest available – will continue to be forced off the Roster.”

That was followed by Smith & Wesson’s declaration that, “Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms. A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes. The microstamping mandate and the company’s unwillingness to adopt this so-called technology will result in a diminishing number of Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols available for purchase by California residents.”

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