The Cherokee Scout in Murphy N.C. apologized Friday for asking the local sheriff for the names of gun-permit holders and permit applicants. The paper calls its records request “a tremendous error in judgment” and apologizes to the sheriff for submitting it.
“We never meant to offend the wonderful people of this fine community,” says publisher David Brown, who declined comment on Monday. (I’m hoping he’ll talk yet this week.)
Timeline and documents:
* Feb. 19: The paper asks the sheriff for the gun information
* Feb. 19: The sheriff claims what the editor is requesting isn’t a public record
* Feb. 20: The editor says he’s told by an attorney that the records are public
* Feb. 21: The paper tells readers: “The Cherokee Scout has heard you – loud and clear”
* Feb. 22: Editor to sheriff: “Please consider this request officially dropped”
The paper then published the publisher’s note below:
NOTE TO READERS
The Cherokee Scout made a tremendous error in judgment this week, and thanks to our readers we learned a tough lesson.
As publisher of your local newspaper, I want to apologize to everyone we unintentionally upset with our public records request for a list of those who have or have applied for a concealed carry permit. We had no idea the the reaction it would cause.
Sheriff Keith Lovin had the best interests of the people of Cherokee County at heart when he denied our request. The Scout would like to offer an apology to him as well.
To that end, Editor Robert Horne spoke with Lovin on Friday morning to tell him we were withdrawing our public records request. He asked for a written copy of request, and Horne dropped it off at his office that morning.
While Horne was on the phone with the sheriff, he also thanked him and his staff for their quick response when some people who saw Facebook posts started making personal threats against him. Horne also requested a sit-down meeting in the near future to iron out any issues between the Scout and the sheriff’s office, which Lovin graciously accepted.
I realize many people are upset with Horne, myself and the Scout and we can understand that. We never meant to offend the wonderful people of this fine community nor hurt the reputation of this newspaper. We do a lot of positive work that helps make Cherokee County an even better place to live, and I hope more good work will repair our reputation with readers.
Many of you have asked where Horne is from. He is from a small town in south Georgia — Cairo, Ga., to be exact. It is a rural area much like Murphy, and his roots are helping him better understand this community. [He has been editor of the paper since 2005.]
As for myself, I attended Murphy High School. I was married and baptized here, and three of my children are proud Bulldogs. This county has been important to me for a long time.
I know where this community is coming from, and I hope we can regain your trust. I know it may take a while, but we’re going to try. Thanks for reading.
Publisher David Brown
* Dear readers: We made a tremendous error in judgment… (cherokeescout.com)
* Dear readers: The readers have spoken, and the Cherokee Scout has heard you – loud and clear… (cherokeescout.com)
* Read the comments about the newspaper’s apology (facebook.com)
* Earlier: Bangor Daily News rescinds gun-records request after locals protest (jimromenesko.com)