San Francisco Chronicle threatened over quest for gun records

A request for public records from the San Francisco Chronicle garnered an unexpected result, a volley of threats and obscenities. The Chronicle asked the Sutter County sheriff for documents of the county’s estimated 3,700 concealed weapons permit holders and soon felt it necessary to increase newsroom security. Sutter County permit owners feared the Chronicle was intent on violating their privacy by publishing their names and addresses. The Chronicle instead only wanted the information to look for trends and to check for abuses in the concealed weapons system. (The Sacramento Bee, February 10, 2020, by Ryan Sabalow)

Attempts to obtain that information across the country has resulted in similarly vitriolic responses, that, according to media watchers, de facto pushed gun ownership records out of the public domain. Gun owner sensitivity was stoked in 2013 when a New York newspaper published a list and map showing every local handgun permit holder with the headline, “The gun owner next door: What You Don’t Know About the Weapons in Your Neighborhood.” (The Washington Post, February 11, 2020, by Hannah Knowles)

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