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Adjust your dials

Locally, on WBIR, they’ll be covering handgun carry permit holders. And they have interesting stats here.

And, in Nashville, The Life of a Gun will air. They apparently had a gun show up in a murder that was sold once by the police. Also, they note the number of traces in Nashville. Well, a trace does not always indicate a crime has occurred and, often, doesn’t indicate a violent crime has occurred.

20 Responses to “Adjust your dials”

  1. Blake Says:

    I’ve made the offer via the comments at WKRN for any reporters wanting to learn something about what they are reporting on that I can get them out for a basic primer on firearms. Maybe someone will take up the offer.

  2. Clint Says:

    From the link: “Finally, an appeal for openness. This story was possible only through Tennessee’s open records laws. There has been talk in recent years of the legislature closing the record on handgun carry permits.

    A closed record would make analysis such as this impossible. An intelligent debate over policy is unlikely without good information. Without strong public records laws, we can’t provide you with good information.”

    He is, of course, correct. Open and unfair analysis requires data. WBIR appears to have used the data responsibly. Unfortunately, there are morons in the press corp out there like Matt Westerhold at the Sandusky Register in Ohio and Christian Trejbal at the Roanoke Times in Virginia who feel completely justified in publishing names, addreeses or whatever else they can find on CHP holders.

    After the fiasco with the Roanoke Times here in Virginia earlier in the year I hope the General Assembly does away with CHP holders list being covered by the FOIA. Ideally, I would like to see my state go over to Vermont or Alaska carry, but we still have a way to go for that. In the meantime we just need to be protected from the “guardians of our free society.”

  3. Clint Says:

    Haha! I meant “fair” analysis, not “unfair.” A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

  4. Cam Says:

    To echo Clint’s first comment, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a mainstream media outlet use this information in a responsible manner.

    However, I still believe there would be ways for the DPS to release this information without identifying individuals. They could sort by gender, zip code, etc. without ever having to release the names of individuals.

  5. Lyle Says:

    I totally reject their “openness” argument. One could do all the “study” (as an admitted non statistician) one wanted without specific names and addresses. It would be enough to know total numbers in one area verses another, but then we have to ask; Is a right subject to the ebb and flow of statistics? Hell no! We should also ask; “Given that there is in fact a movement designed to destroy gun rights, and destroy the rights of specific indivualls who own guns, is it responsible to hand out lists to the enemy?” (that would also apply to perspective robbers, or foreign interests, who could benefit from knowing where people are the least armed).

    Lets ask for a list of names and addressed of AIDS carriers and see how far we get. How about a list of women who have had subsidized abortions? Public information? Hmm? We paid for it. Should we have given out lists of names and addresses of black leaders to the KKK back in the 1940s? What’s the damned difference? Back then it was racist bigots. Now it’s anti-gun bigots, and we’re handing out the names and addresses of their most hated targets.

    A huge hole in this study is in its exclusions– the fact that the vast majority of gun owners do not have carry permits.

    And as one who advocates freedom, I do NOT think that reducing GUN violence necessarily translates to a safer society. That whole “gun violence” meme is crap. Being killed with a knife because you had no gun to defend yourself is not an improvement over using gun violence to save your life. My sister and her daughter, for example, are both dead due to a shortage of life-saving gun violence in their home.

    As for “fostering dialogue on…safety”: Who’s safety—yours or the criminals? I’d much rather “foster a dialogue” on freedom. Safety is a personal issue, between you and your insurance company. Government’s job is ensuring our Freedom. See if you can say that: FRREEEEDOM. I know you can do it.

    Lastly, the mere mention that carry permits are public information, and then demonstrating that all one has to do is ask for it, will no doubt have a chilling effect, all on its own, against further permit applications. Maybe that was the whole purpose of the “story” in the first place. And for anyone who wishes to guffaw the idea, that is EXACTLY the argument used against making AIDS patients known to the public—that knowing they would be put on a public list, they be less likely to seek treatment. It’s a valid argument.

  6. Jake Jost Says:

    Hey, folks.

    Cam, glad you enjoyed the story. Lyle–I don’t even know what anyone could possibly ever say to assuage your fears. Frankly, those words don’t exist.

    Re: an alternative form of release–it’s something that could potentially work, but it would have certainly limited our analysis for this story. The individual addresses allowed us to generate points and then summarize them by Census tract. Zip code polygons are an unruly beast–if anyone wishes, I could render a map of Tennessee’s for you, and you’d see what I mean. Of greater concern, however, is the lack of Census data matching up to Zips. And Census tracts really tend to summarize neighborhoods a bit better, giving a better sense of the trends.

    Anyhow, we’ve added an embedded Google map that will let you search an address in Tennessee and then view the profile for that Census tract (no individual address points). Link is in the commentary; Becker’s story goes on-air at 11, and we’ll link it all up online.

    Regards,
    –Jake, wbir.com

  7. # 9 Says:

    Jake, I hope you don’t mind, where do you live?

    I would like John Becker’s home address as well.

    Why do I ask? Because people who have a carry permit often have several guns. And guns are very valuable to criminals.

    To be very clear, I don’t want to know where you live. That was a rhetorical question. You have a right to privacy and I respect that. As I hope you will respect that right to privacy others have. This is the reason I do not have a carry permit. But does that does mean I am unarmed? No one really knows do they?

    I hope you will not make public peoples home addresses or provide Internet Links to where that information may be obtained. To do so may endanger people in your viewing audience. That is not part of the mission of WBIR is it?

    I know this may seem to be fascinating to you as a reporter. But do you understand you may be putting people in harms way if you publish this information?

    I understand it is public information. But making it easier for criminals to obtain is not a community service.

    I hope you and the WBIR staff will consider all aspects of this issue. I am confident you would not want Internet bloggers to make public where any of you live. But if any of you own a home that is public information also. It is on the tax rolls and that information is on the Internet. For anyone to see. Just because it is public information, does not mean it is the right thing to do.

    From Jake’s report:

    Ultimately, this story is about fostering dialogue on a topic close to all of us: safety.

    Finally, an appeal for openness. This story was possible only through Tennessee’s open records laws. There has been talk in recent years of the legislature closing the record on handgun carry permits.

    A closed record would make analysis such as this impossible. An intelligent debate over policy is unlikely without good information. Without strong public records laws, we can’t provide you with good information.

    Jake, should there be an open records law for television investigative reporters who endanger innocent citizens by making public their home addresses including the number of valuable guns they have?

    You write this is about safety, but yet if you release the home addresses of people with carry permits you will endanger their safety. Do you understand why this is an important issue?

    I hope I have given you the other perspective of this issue. Ethically I cannot agree with making it easier for criminals to target innocent citizens. Not only is the release of this information dangerous to private citizens, it is also dangerous to criminals who may be emboldened to do a home invasion or even a routine burglary to steal a gun listed in a public database.

    Is this a public service Jake? Or is it a story that may have unintended consequences?

  8. Lyle Says:

    Jake: Who said I was afraid? If I were afraid, I’d sit here with my mouth shut instead of writing almost daily using my real name. My entire message centers on privacy in an environment where people are actively trying to destroy a culture, but mainly;
    the fact that a right is a right. The right to self defense is primary among those rights, and that right is not subject to the ebb and flow of crime or any other statistics. Period.

    Shall we turn the tables, from the Second Amendment to the First, for the sake if illustration?

    Fraud and misinformation are perpetrated using speech– by way of printed, broadcast, and electronic media. That’s a fact. Fraud costs innocent citizens billions of dollars annually, and causes other personal problems too numerous to mention. Lets now tie fraud to the free exercise of First Amendment rights, such that virtually any discussion of one results in the scrutinizing of the other. Then we’ll discuss releasing the names and addresses of all journalists and their sources in the name of “openness and dialogue”. After all, we can agree that fraud is a bad thing, and that even First Amendment “nuts” need to understand that.

    Now lets assume that there are a host of powerful anti-First Amendment groups, who have declared that speech is not an individual right protected by the Constitution. The UN is strongly behind them. They speak of “computer fraud”, they speak of “radio fraud” and they decry “print media fraud” while showing images of printing presses churning out counterfeit money, asking newspaper editors, “So what do think NOW about your precious so-called free-press rights, Hmm?” etc.. They say that fighting fraud and misinformation means drastically restricting free speech. They have even had a U.S. president make that declaration and they have half of Congress on their side. They have successfully implemented a complex and multi-tiered licensing program for all who wish to own or trade in computers, radios, TVs, or printing equipment. Further, that certain powerful members of the mass media have been more than friendly to the anti free speech movement for decades, and that a former president has sent federal agents into Idaho and Texas where something like 100 pro First Amendment activists were killed by those federal agents as a result, then smeared as child molesters and freaks.

    See the point yet?

    Now, in the name of “openness and dialogue” someone from said anti-free speech media releases a story on how easy it is obtain the names and addresses of all journalists and media equipment licensees in the country. Then they do a mapping exercise, looking for a geographic correlation between First Amendment practitioners and fraud convictions.

    Would you see any problem there at all? Yet, point for point, the Second Amendment ands those who support it have been, and are, treated exactly as I have just described.

    Now you’re advertising the fact that anyone who applies for a carry permit could (and should in your opinion) end up having his or her name published by the local media, or obtained by anyone else who wants it for any reason– ex spouses, stalkers, people casing certain neighborhoods, future out-of-control anti-gun officials, et al. And you have no problem with that at all?

  9. Tennessee Handgun Carry Permits at Ninth Stage Says:

    […] Oops, thought I’d posted this already.  My Middle TN readers should watch channel 2 at 10 for a gun recycling story.  Thanks Unc. […]

  10. Jake Jost Says:

    #9: go to our website. Find where we’ve published the names or addresses or any personally identifiable info.

    You won’t.

    If you would like my address, please e-mail me via my work e-mail: jjost@wbir.gannett.com . We’ll barbecue some night.

    Lyle: Are you suggesting it’s more reasonable that people apply for a permit and *not* know their information will be entered into a public record database? Shouldn’t we let would-be applicants know that anyhow?

    As you’ve apparently lumped me in with “the enemy” in your first post, there’s really nothing I can tell you that will allay your concerns. I will say, however, that launching into vaguely paranoid invective at an objective (and non-privacy-infringing) study of a cause you support…well, it’s not productive.

    –Jake, wbir.com

  11. sevesteen Says:

    I posted on the WBIR forum that this is the first time I’ve seen mass license data used appropriately by a journalist. I wish there was a way that this sort of story could remain possible, without other journalists finding a way to merely post the list of names or otherwise invade our privacy.

  12. Nylarthotep Says:

    @Jake
    #9: go to our website. Find where we’ve published the names or addresses or any personally identifiable info.

    You miss the point.

    The fact is that anyone with a FOIA request can get the same information that you have. And once that information is in your pocket, those people on the list now face an elevated risk because they must trust you and your company and any other entity that gets the list to use it responsibly. That use includes safe keeping. Unfortunately that list is a simple target list for those who own guns. The extended risk that the FOIA allows is unacceptable to many who own guns. Guns in this specific case are more often possessed for protection and security. This group has made a conscious decision to try and protect themselves and the FOIA information lessens its effectiveness by allowing people, who may have less honest intent to target those who are trying to be responsible for themselves.

    And to Lyle’s point, if this had been some portion of the public that is politically correct to control access to the names, it would be illegal. Why do you think that the federal government has such practices?

    It is the opinion of most who read here that releasing those names is a violation of rights. Specifically the right to privacy. (The SCOTUS has upheld that as a right under the constitution by the way. Check out Roe vs. Wade.)

    As you’ve apparently lumped me in with “the enemy” in your first post, there’s really nothing I can tell you that will allay your concerns. I will say, however, that launching into vaguely paranoid invective at an objective (and non-privacy-infringing) study of a cause you support…well, it’s not productive.

    Nice strawman. By the standard you are bowing out on your comment to Lyle: Lyle–I don’t even know what anyone could possibly ever say to assuage your fears. Frankly, those words don’t exist. is not productive either, yet you still managed to do it. And I suppose calling the discussion here of your study as being vaguely paranoid would be reasoned discourse. Come on. If you want to discuss, do so, but don’t tell the group your debating that they have to follow rules that you refuse to yourself.

  13. #9 Says:

    without other journalists finding a way to merely post the list of names or otherwise invade our privacy.

    Jake, so far so good. I concur, WBIR did not release personal information. Now we wait until WVLT or some other station or Jack McElroy at the News Sentinel decides to go one step further.

    In a world of identity theft people have every reason to be concerned about their safety. I get a little concerned when you write, “Finally, an appeal for openness. This story was possible only through Tennessee’s open records laws. There has been talk in recent years of the legislature closing the record on handgun carry permits.”

    When people had to go to the court house with pen and paper the open records laws were quite different than when people can sit at home and data mine information off the Internet. Our society does not allow medical information to be open records. So it is clear there are some limits to what the public should be allowed to see.

    Your point is that this data should be public. I think that endangers people. I believe like medical information, this should not be public information. Where in the Constitution does it state that the public has a right to this information?

  14. SayUncle Says:

    For the record, I thought the piece was good. No people specific info posted and interesting reading. Not real different from stats I’ve seen here.

  15. triticale Says:

    Well, a trace does not always indicate a crime has occurred and, often, doesn’t indicate a violent crime has occurred.

    There is only one remaining firearms dealer anywhere near the Milwaukee inner city, so they get beat up on repeatedly. The first time their large number of traces was publicized, it required considerable pressure to get the numbers clarified. It was finally admitted that “some” were theft recoveries, and only 40 out of 1400 hd been used in a homicide.

  16. Jake Jost Says:

    Nylar: The man launched into a nightmare fantasy scenario twice, once after I made it extremely clear I had no interest in invading his privacy. He also, as I noted, vaguely grouped me in with “the enemy,” apparently because I’m in news.

    There’s a reasonable discussion to be had about whether or not the record should be open–that discussion, however, is not to be had by railing at the evil WBIR for something the evil WBIR didn’t do. In fact, that we did not publish names and addresses seems completely immaterial to Lyle.

    What on earth could I possibly say to this man that would make him comfortable? We did our best to perform an objective analysis and do right by all parties involved. That’s really all I have to say about it.

    –Jake, wbir.com

  17. SayUncle » Update on some TN gun stories Says:

    […] an update to this, Here’s WBIR’s online piece with a […]

  18. straightarrow Says:

    I thought it an interesting article responsibly presented and in keeping with the proper respect for the possible consequences to the public.

    I would hope that more in the media take a page from their book.

  19. Lyle Says:

    Jake: Call me “vaguely paranoid” and “fearful” but I can back up everything I said with recent historical fact, and add a lot more on top of it besides, whereas your entire report is about 12 years behind the curve. Kleck, Mustard, Quigley and Lott, among others, have nuked the “guns in the hands of regular citizens equals more crime” meme, finding the opposite to be true. Their studies were vastly more comprehensive than yours, and without resorting to lists of name and addresses. It’s old news.

    By your measure, buying a fire extinguisher or fastening your seatbelt, citing actual fires or actual vehicle accidents, would be considered “paranoid” or “fearful”.

    Again, what is the purpose of your “study”, really? To determines answers to the question, “Should people be allowed to carry concealed firearms”? The result of any such study will not change a right to a privilege, to a crime. You’re ignoring this argument altogether, going after my “paranoia” and “fear” (projection?) instead.

    If you really want to find some juicy information, try studying the origins of the Second Amendment—the actual things the Framers of the Constitution were saying about it at the time. Then do a study on the relationship between areas with strict gun control laws and corrupt government officials. Or are you too “afraid” or “paranoid” to turn over those rocks and see what lies underneath?

  20. Lyle Says:

    To Jake, and all those interested in the subject: Here’s a starter course:
    http://www.secondamendmentdocumentary.com/