A sheriff in California is being legally forced to release sensitive information about private citizens who have a concealed carry permit.
On Monday, Sutter County Sheriff Brandon Barnes alerted citizens who have a concealed carry permit that their name, permit number, date of permit issue and expiration, is being turned over to the San Francisco Chronicle due to a public record request issued on Jan. 10, CBS13 reported.
Barnes wrote in a Tuesday letter that he personally declined turning over the information, but the Office of County Counsel advised him that he is legally obligated to turn over the information.
“The San Francisco Chronicle has not indicated why they want the information or how they intend to use the information,” Barnes added.
Copies of the letter will be sent out to the relevant concealed carry permit holders when the sheriff turns over their information.
San Francisco Chronicle Editor in Chief Audrey Cooper told CBS13 that they have no intention of releasing license holder’s names or other private information.
She added that she felt “deeply disturbed” that the sheriff would want to tell law-abiding citizens that the media have their information.
“I am deeply disturbed by how some sheriffs have handled a routine request for public information from a respected and established news outlet. As a result, they have put our journalists in personal danger for their own political gain,” Cooper stated.
Cooper claimed that the reporter who initially requested the information, Joaquin Palomino, has received threats against him. As a result, his name will be removed from a refined public records request by the Chronicle. Instead, Cooper is using her name out of concern for Palomino’s safety.
“It is a journalist’s job to investigate trends, and we do not intend on publishing personal information of private citizens,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately, the sheriff sought to play up distrust in media when it became clear that they cannot deny access to public information.”
Many gun owners were outraged their private information was being turned over.
“I carry a Kimber .45,” Sutter County resident Ken Pike said in a separate CBS13 report. He said he now feels “exposed, violated.”
He added: “I can protect you, I can protect myself.”
Pike said he acknowledged that his information might be turned over when he applied for his concealed carry permit. “You know, it’s right there in black and white,” he said. “Yes, they are entitled to that information, but I don’t have to be happy about it.”
Sutter County Assemblyman James Gallagher said in a Facebook post that he wasn’t sure he could trust the Chronicle not to publish the private information and that he trusts “that Sheriff Barnes and Sheriff [Kory] Honea are handling this request with great respect to permit holders and our 2A rights.”
In his conclusion, Barnes said he will always be committed to “protecting the rights of our citizens, and those rights afforded to us by our Second Amendment.”