Newspaper Editor Resigns Amid Controversy
Last week, Cherokee County Sheriff Keith Lovin refused an open records request from a local paper, The Cherokee Scout, to release the names of concealed gun permit holders. The request brought an angry backlash against the Scout. Then the paper printed not one, but two public apologies for even requesting the information.
The request and apology sparked a nationwide debate and now Scout editor Robert Horne has resigned.
"Those records are public. Courts have ruled that they're public," said UNCA journalism professor Michael Gouge. He scoffed at Sheriff Lovin's contention he's withholding the records to protect public safety and privacy.
"The information in there is not much different than the information you would get in the land records, which are available online."
The state Attorney General's Office believes the gun permit records are public and routinely releases it. In fact, a spokeswoman told News 13's Mario Boone the only gun permit information not considered public are social security numbers, military status, and scars and tattoos.
The North Carolina Sheriffs' Association is on the fence and said there are two schools of thought on the issue. Either sheriffs are for or against releasing the data. The group believes the matter must ultimately be decided by the courts if the legislature doesn't settle it first.
"The record belongs to the people, not to the sheriff," said Gouge.
By: Mario Boone, firstname.lastname@example.org
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