AP gets threats after asking names of concealed carry permit holders

2013-08-06T05:45:00Z 2013-08-06T06:03:05Z AP gets threats after asking names of concealed carry permit holders missoulian.com

HELENA – Associated Press reporters in Montana have been subject to online threats after the news spread that Attorney General Tim Fox had denied AP’s request for the names and other information about Montanans with concealed weapons permits.

On July 30, the AP filed a report with the Helena Police Department over the online threats, said Jim Clarke, AP chief of bureau for Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Clarke declined to elaborate, saying: “The AP refrains from ever publicly discussing security matters affecting staff, and that goes for war zones such as Kabul as well as locations in the United States.”

Some online commentators have published the names and addresses of AP reporters in Helena, while another ran a Google Street view photo showing the house owned by one AP newsman here.

One online threat on a blog said, “If only someone could release the names of the AP reporters, where they work, their home addresses, names of family members, where their children go to school and what kind of car they drive with the license plate number.”

Another one said: “We need to track down and publish the names and addresses of AP executives, photographs of their children and the route they take to school.”

Another threat said: “Associate Propaganda – they will know when they see my muzzle flash.“

John Barnes, spokesman for Attorney General Fox, said Monday he wasn’t aware of the threats until informed by a reporter.

“If any employee of the AP or their families or any citizens or anyone has a threat, that person should contact their city or county law enforcement officers,” Barnes said.

What triggered the controversy was when an AP reporter made a formal request on March 18 for a digital copy of the concealed weapon permit holder database in Montana. AP sought the public information on each permit holder, not limited to first, middle and last name, street address, city, employer, age or date of birth, driver’s license and date of application.

This information on concealed weapon permit holders had been public in Montana until the 2013 Legislature passed a law making it confidential.

Over the years, Montana news organizations, including Lee Newspapers State Bureau, had periodically requested the names of the concealed weapon permit holders for use in news stories.

***

The AP request came shortly after a bill easily passed both houses of the 2013 Legislature by large margins to require that all information on a concealed weapon permit application be kept confidential in the future. Gov. Steve Bullock signed the bill into law March 28, and it takes effect Oct. 1.

In response, Barnes said he talked to two AP reporters by phone on April 22 to tell them their request was being denied and detailing the reason. Barnes said the Attorney General’s Office was putting together a memo elaborating on Fox’s reasoning.

On April 30, an online publication from Boston, known as MuckRock News, filed a similar request.

On July 17, Fox’s office sent a three-page memo to the AP and the Boston group detailing his reasons for denying the requests.

“After careful research and consideration of the requests, it is the opinion of this office that broad dissemination of CWP (concealed weapon permit) status and application information would unnecessarily invade the privacy of individuals in violation of the Montanan Constitution,” the memo from Fox’s office said.

The memo concluded: “In the opinion of the attorney general, the demands of individual privacy clearly outweigh the merits of public disclosure under these circumstances. After thoughtful consideration, requests for such information must be denied.”

It said the office would continue to provide county-by-county statistics, upon request, on the number of permit holders.

The same day that the memo was released, Barnes said the office sent copies by email to the 56 county attorneys and then by mail to the 56 sheriffs, although their sheriffs’ association later distributed it to members by email.

AP never reported on the memo from Fox’s office.

News of the AP request and Fox’s denial first broke July 24 on the website for Aaron Flint, a conservative Billings commentator and broadcaster with Northern Broadcasting System, who has a daily statewide radio show. Flint said he had received a copy of Fox’s memo from a source outside of the Attorney General’s Office and posted it on his website.

A day later, Media Trackers, a conservative Montana website that covers Montana politics and the media, picked up the story.

Montana Television Network and Montana Public Radio followed with stories about Fox denying the request. They quoted AP Bureau Chief Clarke saying the news organization generally doesn’t comment on its ongoing reporting efforts.

On Friday, in a statement to Lee Newspapers, Clark elaborated on why AP sought the information:

“After the Montana Legislature voted to remove from the public record information on whom the government had granted permits to carry concealed weapons, effective Oct. 1, The Associated Press requested a database of these files that had long been accessible to the public.

“AP acted under freedom of information law, which we do routinely in seeking records at the federal, state and local level as part of our newsgathering process and our long-standing mission to assure transparency and accountability in government....

“We have never had any interest in publishing the Montana database in its entirety.”

Chuck Johnson is chief of the Lee Newspapers State Bureau in Helena. He can be reached by email at: chuck.johnson@lee.net or by phone at (406) 447-4066 or (800) 525-4920.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(22) Comments

  1. NewMontanaMan
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    NewMontanaMan - August 06, 2013 6:25 pm
    It is none of their business who has concealed carry permits. The only reason they would want to know is to carry out some Liberal program to denigrate persons who are perfectly legal and good American citizens. Turn about is fair play.
  2. freerider36
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    freerider36 - August 06, 2013 5:57 pm
    AP, NEWSFLASH: knowing where your kid is or where you live isnt a threat. I can find that with a google search.What the hells the matter with you paranoid liberal freaks. What is threatening is a paranoid news agency wanting sealed information. ITS PROTECTED JACKASS.
  3. pl
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    pl - August 06, 2013 5:38 pm
    If you love your gun so much, why are you ashamed to have your name published that you DO love you gun so much? Apparently you are paranoid enough to have a CWP and also paranoid enough to not want your name published about it! I would think you would want to shout it from the highest mountain! Then to threaten a reporter for merely ASKING for a list of names to the extent that you threaten their children??? Really? You just
    prove yourselves to be the nuts that most of the rest of us think you are. BTW, I own a gun and I HAVE had a CWP in the past. I don't think a CWP is necessary for me anymore and thus I don't have one. I laugh my @ss off when I see the same guy come into the Super 1 decked out in his fatigues with his pistol strapped to his side just to go grocery shopping! Guns have a time and a place. Get a better education and figure it out.
  4. Dcmissoula
    Report Abuse
    Dcmissoula - August 06, 2013 5:22 pm
    Doubt it.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/16/class-warfare-hundreds-pr_n_578015.html
  5. Roger
    Report Abuse
    Roger - August 06, 2013 4:11 pm
    If it involves publishing personal information that could result in harm to people, you're darn right people will get angry and try to stop it - I'd bet you would so the same thing in a similar situation.
  6. lightninsam
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    lightninsam - August 06, 2013 2:40 pm
    Strange how 3 different sites posting the story about Gilberton Pa. don't work----google--"militia controls Gilberton pa"--.
  7. lightninsam
    Report Abuse
    lightninsam - August 06, 2013 2:37 pm
    BigMac - 1 hour ago --You are right.....But the majority should be more concerned and speaking out against the thugs within reflecting on all of us.

    Where I am there are approx. 400,000 bikers around ,95% are wonderful people, it's the %5 that reflect badly on all,,,,Same with gun people.
  8. BigMac
    Report Abuse
    BigMac - August 06, 2013 1:07 pm
    Many of you are unfairly blaming " gun owners" in general when in fact it is most likely a few warped souls!
  9. Roger
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    Roger - August 06, 2013 1:07 pm
    Yeah - the reporters have no concern for the privacy of those who hold concealed-carry permits - turnabout is fair play, as the saying goes. Some news" organizations are just plain unethical, as they proved again in their biased, sometimes untrue coverage of the Trayvon Martin case.
  10. lightninsam
    Report Abuse
    lightninsam - August 06, 2013 10:55 am
    Want to see what these militia freaks want?---http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message2313806/pg1
  11. lightninsam
    Report Abuse
    lightninsam - August 06, 2013 10:48 am
    “If only someone could release the names of the AP reporters, where they work, their home addresses, names of family members, where their children go to school and what kind of car they drive with the license plate number.”
    : “We need to track down and publish the names and addresses of AP executives, photographs of their children and the route they take to school.”
    “Associate Propaganda – they will know when they see my muzzle flash.“

    That's the kind of America "these people" want---Nobody should say or do anything they dislike

  12. Dubs
    Report Abuse
    Dubs - August 06, 2013 10:40 am
    Every Montanan should write Tim Fox a letter with a big "thank You". He has proven over and over that he is looking out FOR Montana and our heritage and culture. Very refreshing to finally have an AG that is not clouded by special interest groups and respects all Montanans and our rights.
  13. wildmtn
    Report Abuse
    wildmtn - August 06, 2013 10:08 am
    Absolutely agree with Lost !! Implied and outright threats that include children??? What good can they possibly think they're doing for the rest of us gunowners? They just give liberals more reason to go after more restrictive legislation yet they do not represent the majority of us. Please shut up, we don't need your kind of help.
  14. dave ajou
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    dave ajou - August 06, 2013 10:04 am
    Nonsense. The point is that the AP is requesting personal information to PUBLISH, which is decidedly black hearted. Now if anyone threatened, or suggested physical violence against kids, AP reporters or CCP holders I'm all for putting the hammer down on them.
  15. The_Boneshackler
    Report Abuse
    The_Boneshackler - August 06, 2013 9:41 am
    If social justice advocates threatened wealthy and powerful Wall Street banksters and published their family's personal information online with threats of violence, you can guarantee that there would be a visit from the FBI and charges of domestic terrorism filed.
  16. TheArmadillo
    Report Abuse
    TheArmadillo - August 06, 2013 9:11 am
    One could make that argument, but one would be an complete blackheart for doing so. Shame on you!
  17. DonaldM
    Report Abuse
    DonaldM - August 06, 2013 9:02 am
    This conduct on the part of the AP and other "news" organizations is so outrageous that I am speechless. Who in the H*** do they think they are. Wanting that information serves no legitimate news function.

    While I would not threaten them, there is a form of justice in exposing them to the same public scrutiny, on a personal level, that they intend to do to CPP holders. What the AP and others are doing is pure partisan advocacy and has nothing to do with "news" . It is an act of malicious intimidation. That there is some push-back is simple justice.

    The reporters and their editors involved in this should be fired. They disgrace what was once a respectable, even honorable, profession.
  18. Lost-In-MT
    Report Abuse
    Lost-In-MT - August 06, 2013 8:57 am
    Great idea!!! Lets use implied threats and the second amendment to squash the first amendment!! I own firearms, some that certain groups prefer I do not own, however these actions appall me. The people doing this may think they are helping gun owners but really they are the biggest threat to gun ownership.
  19. montanamuralist
    Report Abuse
    montanamuralist - August 06, 2013 7:35 am
    Oh good..threaten the AP reporters. That makes the gun toting crowd look reasonable. Makes me concerned they are allowed to have a gun in the first place with that mentality. That is not a political comment...just the truth.
  20. dave ajou
    Report Abuse
    dave ajou - August 06, 2013 7:34 am
    What an ominous headline, online threats. Outside of the "muzzle flash" which is about as threatening as "cold dead fingers", it looks like what is good for the goose is good for the gander. One could make the argument that throwing in routes kids take to school is no more intrusive than the excessive request for home addresses and employers for CCP holders.
  21. COMMON SENSE
    Report Abuse
    COMMON SENSE - August 06, 2013 6:41 am
    How sad, but somehow not surprising...the fourth estate is now without a doubt functioning as an arm of the DNC. Politics, corruption and BS truly knows no bounds in this country anymore. Rome is burning and the fire fighters are roasting marshmallows and singing Kumbaya!
  22. Barkinlounger
    Report Abuse
    Barkinlounger - August 06, 2013 12:41 am
    PUBLIC__ 1 BIG BROTHER__0 ..... maybe minus
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