| Ohio Governor Bob Taft signed a law
permitting law abiding Ohio citizens to apply for permits to carry concealed
firearms on January 8, 2004, the same day that Cleveland major newspaper, the
Plain Dealer, published an editorial declaring it's intention to "obtain this
information and publish it," referring to the list of legally licensed permit
This action has angered many permit seekers,
which may be what the Plain Dealer had in mind. The editorial in which the
statement was made may be the first volley in a fight in which the Plain
Dealer, which is supposed to be non-partisan as all newspapers should be, has
placed itself squarely as an opponent of the law.
the Plain Dealer publishes the list of permit holders, I will publish a list of
plain dealer reporters and their home addresses" said a gun owner and concealed
carry permit advocate who prefers to remain anonymous. "The plain dealer wants
to intimidate people from engaging in a legal activity. It is like obtaining a
list of gay public school teachers and publishing it in order to intimidate
Being anonymous is what the permit holders
prefer, but the legislation which will take effect 90 days after the signing by
Governor Taft, allows media to see the list, a provision that Governor Taft
demanded as a condition for his signature. The Plain Dealer, however, wants to
take it a step further than viewing the list and publish the name of everyone
on the list, thus placing the names in the public view, which was not the
intent of the Ohio legislature or Governor Taft.
Boycott Watch contacted Plain Dealers Managing Editor
Tom O'Hara, and asked him if he was serious about publishing the names and
addresses or the permit holders that were intended for the media only. Mr.
O'Hara replied "Yes, because we believe this is information the public should
we can do what we think is responsible and important."
The Plain Dealer, like many newspapers, endorses
candidates and positions on ballot issues. Permit advocates feel this is
different because the Plain Dealer is actively taking steps beyond
editorializing and plans to act as a partisan organization in a political
matter by placing itself into the permit issue as activists. Newspapers
traditionally do not take on the role of advocate in non-election issues. For
example, newspapers may take a position in a ballot issue regarding abortion,
but a newspaper steps out of bounds if it chooses to publish the names of
people who obtain an abortion, which is a legal procedure.
When asked about the newspaper taking an active role
as a political partisan, Mr. O'Hara said: "We endorse all kinds of candidates
and issues - it's traditional for a newspaper to take positions. The separation
of news from editorials does not effect our reporting." As a publication that
works hard to remain non-biased, Boycott Watch does question if remaining
non-biased is possible when the newspaper takes an activist role in an issue,
as the Plain Dealer clearly has.
In order to obtain
an Ohio concealed carry permit, one must pass a background check to make sure,
among other things, that the applicant has not committed any serious crimes.
Criminals will be denied permits by the new law. "This is a perfectly legal
activity, and the Plain Dealer wants to criminalize it" said another gun owner
who fears applying for the permit because he wants to remain anonymous. "I want
to apply for the permit, but if my name is published, it will only help
criminals know what house to break into to get a gun, which is the opposite of
what the Ohio Concealed Carry law and hopefully the Plain Dealer intend."
Boycott Watch saved the toughest question for Mr.
O'Hara for last. One person who intends to obtain a permit said he would
publish the names and home addresses of the Plain Dealer reporters if the Plain
Dealer published the names of permit holders, to which Mr. O'Hara replied:
"They are welcome to do whatever they think is right."