From the General Manager

First, Second Amendment rights carry equal weight

Posted July 20, 2012

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.

34 Comments

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  • heremeaj Jul 27, 11:48 a.m.

    I would TOTALLY fight for your right to the first amendment no matter your viewpoint. I do not see the same respect for the Constitution or MY rights in your media.

  • meh1951 Jul 26, 10:19 a.m.

    Second amendment protects the first, and all the others behind it.
    The second amendment must not be removed, edited, etc. It's what keeps us free.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Jul 26, 10:18 a.m.

    "That's a cop out reply. WRAL made information more readily available and for no good reason. What value is there in providing this link?" whocanitbe123

    "Bankruptcy is a matter of public record. So is divorce and marriage. Maybe they should start a database on all this so we can all see who is married and who is just shacking up. Death records are also public record maybe he should start a database on this, then they could inform more wit out bias." terryrikard

    Exactly my thought process! There is nothing news worthy about making this detailed information easier to get.

    "Find conceal weapon permit holders in your area" is the way it is labeled... Why? The premise seems to imply that there's something wrong or it's some sort of danger. Totally misleading & unnecessary. Of course it's their 1st amendment right to publish it but there is an agenda here.

    I also don't watch WRAL any longer. I do like the website but don't spend nearly the time here as I used to.

  • whocanitbe123 Jul 25, 10:28 p.m.

    Forgot to sign my post:

    Former WRAL viewer.... I miss the fish-man but have learned there are other channels out there. Way to go WRAL. Easy to lose a viewer.

  • whocanitbe123 Jul 25, 6:23 p.m.

    That's a cop out reply. WRAL made information more readily available and for no good reason. What value is there in providing this link?

  • Icaretoo Jul 25, 4:21 p.m.

    This same information was published in The News & Observer. Why not outrage for them? It is provided by the North Carolina Department of Justice! I am sick and tired of people that complain about how we must not touch the 2nd Amendment but choose to totally disregard the 1st Amendment!!!

  • wparsons Jul 25, 10:07 a.m.

    Thanks, Steve. A great article. It's not quite as easy as you say to get that information from Donnie Harrison's office. Secondly, perhaps you might relate to your readership how many executive level WRALers have a CC permit. That way there are no specific names or tattoo locations.

    William M. Parsons

  • terryrikard Jul 25, 9:18 a.m.

    The job of WRAL is to inform without favor or bias…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.
    Wow, they have a job and a responsibility. Why?? What make this such a hot moral agenda? What laws are being broken? What make concealed carry holders a danger that makes this a responsibility??? Bankruptcy is a matter of public record. So is divorce and marriage. Maybe they should start a database on all this so we can all see who is married and who is just shacking up. Death records are also public record maybe he should start a database on this, then they could inform more wit out bias. They should fire this guy from his ivory tower!

  • FlySwater Jul 24, 3:34 p.m.

    I don't question your right to post the database. I just want to know "Why?". What was the intended benefit to the reader? Exactly how did the database add value to the piece?

    If your best answer is "to make public information easily accessible", one can only assume it was a completely absent-minded decision, or there was a political motive.

  • Blaster Jul 24, 9:40 a.m.

    I call baloney on the "WRAL doesn't take a position either way". the sole unstated purpose in providing this link is so that someone can find out if the have "one of those crazed gun lovers nearby, or as a friend, co-worker, or aquaintance". The truthteller on WRAL's stance is revealed if you listen to their radiocast of the 6 pm news on their sister radio station, 101.5. the broadcast concludes with a "commentary" by Chris Fitzsimmons. Let's just say he ought to open with "Greeting comrades"

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