CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA — A Public Records Request made by ABC 7 News was honored by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. Within that request was the names and locations of every single registered concealed carrier in the county.
According to the Sheriff’s Office’s official statement, it’s a point of pride that only 17% of applicant requests for a concealed carry permit are approved. But, for the remaining 317 concealed carriers that were issued permits through Contra Costa county, their names and locations are now in the hands of a major news organization.
“We try and balance the needs of the public and the people who want or need access to the information to ensure everyone’s safety,” said Nate McCormack, Lieutenant with the Sheriffs Office.
ABC 7 News has yet to publish these names but from prior examples like the Journal News in 2012, this information can be used to make interactive maps to help criminals determine which houses likely have guns to steal.
This is a grossly negligent action on behalf of law enforcement.
Not only does this place lawfully registered concealed carriers at heightened risk, it sets a dangerous precedent whereby law enforcement knowingly abuses and distributes information to public outlets with charged political interests.
This is example of the form letter that each registered concealed carrier received in his or her mailbox.
“The Office of the Sheriff has received a California Public Records Request Act from ABC7 News for the disclosure of all CCW permit holders’ names and home addresses from January 1, 2011 to date. The provisions of statutory and decisional law mandates most information contained in CCW applications and permits are subject to public disclosure. The law specifically allows for limited exceptions to public disclosure include the home addresses of permit holders employed in certain occupations, including judges, court commissioners or magistrates, deputy district attorney’s and peace officers. Names of CCW permit holders are not except from public disclosure.
In compliance with the law, the Office of the Sheriff will soon be releasing your name and city of residence as a CCW permit holder in response to the ABC7 News request. CCW permit holders in the above occupations will not have their city of residence released. The office of the Sheriff has declined to release the home address of any permit holder, regardless of occupation, in accordance with our interpretation of statutory and decisional law. The Office of the Sheriff understands you may have well founded concerns about your privacy, including release of your home address, and the Office of the Sheriff intends to protect this privacy in balance with its obligation to comply with the law regarding public records. If, in the future, the Office of the Sheriff is in receipt of information which indicates our position on the non-disclosure of CCW holders addresses cannot be legally justified, we will be forced to release your address unless there is a qualifying statutory exception as described above.”
So, concealed carriers will have their home of record withheld pending any rebuttal to the Sheriff’s Office’s withholding of that information.
What on earth does ABC 7 News need with that information?!
Concealed Nation does not publish the names of concealed carriers or gun owners involved in self-defense situations out of respect for the person’s privacy. It’s a standing policy we’ve upheld because concealed carriers and gun owners are routinely placed into high intensity situations where privacy is appreciated.
Publishing any article, video, or interactive map that incorporates the names and addresses of law-abiding citizens is a violation of basic journalism ethics and standards. It also places those people at a heightened risk.
Personally, if I lived in Contra Costa and my name and address were published for no good reason, I’d probably speak to an attorney. Three hundred and seventeen people in Contra Costa county are registered concealed carriers. That’s one heck of a class action lawsuit.