The Memphis Commercial Appeal will not take down a searchable database of Tennesseans with permits to carry concealed handguns despite protests from gun owners and a debate on whether such information should be available to the public, reports the Asssociated Press. Gun-rights advocates call the publication an invasion of privacy and say it makes permit holders easy targets for burglaries. They have flooded the newspaper with complaints – some 600 e-mails daily, threatened staff, and posted personal information about newspaper employees, including Google maps to some homes.
The newspaper posted the database on its Web site in December, but it did not draw attention until a February story about a parking spot argument that ended with a motorist shot dead.
Editor Chris Peck said the paper added the database because newspapers should be a thorough source for community information. He pointed to the recent shooting as proof why the database is valuable to readers. After the parking lot dispute, a reader posted an online comment asking whether the suspect charged with murder had a permit to carry a gun. The newspaper directed readers to its database. “When that gun comes out in public, the citizens of Tennessee have a right to know,” Peck said. “When and if it is used in public, the private weapon becomes part of public policy.” Peck said it is the most viewed item on the newspaper’s Web site, with more than 65,000 page views per day.