One of the great things about this country is that we can have passionate debates about issues that are important to any of us. Recently, some of you have been exercising your First Amendment right – freedom of speech – to tell us how you feel about your Second Amendment right – the right to bear arms.
Which amendment is more important? Neither. Both are vital. Both make this a great country.
Our recent posting of a searchable, street-level database of concealed weapon permits has created a passionate debate and unfortunately some distasteful threats.
These are the facts: The information we posted is available to any person who requests it. Any citizen can get this information and plenty more if he/she goes to the sheriff’s office. You do not need to identify yourself or explain why you want it. Government agencies do not track who requests this information. That's the law.
We chose NOT to include the name, entire street address, birth date, gender, race and any identifying marks (such as tattoos) of the permit holders. Again, that information is all available to the public. The information we are sharing was part of a broader story on gun ownership.
Having said that, let me address some of the concerns and misinformation we've heard:
- We are not trying to take away guns.
- We are not trying to change the gun laws.
- We are not attacking the Second Amendment.
- We have made no judgment on the lawfulness of those who carry or those who don't.
- We have spoken with law enforcement officials on the public safety of this database.
Bottom line: As North Carolinians, we all have a legal right to carry a gun, and we all have a right to information that is public.
The job of WRAL is to inform without favor or bias. That’s what our founder said when we started broadcasting in 1956. That continues to be our mission today. We believe we have a responsibility to be a resource of information, and we will continue to do that by making public information easily accessible to the public.
We don't expect every viewer to agree with everything we do. We believe debate of the issues is healthy for our community. We believe that if you expect your Constitutional rights to be respected, you owe others that same courtesy and privilege. Civil discourse should be just that: civil. We respect the values you hold dear, and we will continue to operate from the values that have defined our station for 56 years.