Accurate Journalism, One Baby Step at a Time


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Dain Bramage
October 13, 2005, 02:35 PM
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a story on 10/12/05 about a local CEO who confronted a trespasser in his yard. The CEO was armed with a pistol and fired it in the air as a warning shot (bad idea). Anyway, all went well; the interloper was arrested and the homeowner was checked out and had his pistol returned by the police.

Marchex CEO Fired Gun with Intruder Lurking (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/244279_marchex12.html)

In a strange twist, since the CEO was a prominent businessman, the story was covered in the Business Section of the paper. Not surprisingly, the reporter got a gun law detail dead wrong at the end of the story. He said that the man was "...a licensed gun owner". Since there is no such beast in Washington State, I sent the reporter the following email:

I know the story about Marchex CEO Russell Horowitz is somewhat outside the mainstream of business reporting. At the end of the article, you state "Horowitz is a licensed gun owner", which is probably a direct quote from the police. However, even the police can make misstatements, and it is the reporter's job to clarify the story.

There is no license required to own or carry a gun on one's property in this state. There is an identification system required to purchase a firearm through a licensed dealer, using the federal NICS system. However, those records are supposedly not kept permanently by the government. If you meant that Mr. Horowitz had a license to carry a concealed pistol, then that is not germane to the story. No where did it state that the pistol was concealed or carried off of Mr. Horowitz's property. It would be somewhat like saying, " Mr. Horowitz crashed his Cadillac, and he also has a motorcycle endorsement on his driver's license".

I often have people ask me if my guns are registered or licensed. They are surprised to hear that it is not required. I would expect the PI to be clear and accurate on local law, and not spread disinformation, even inadvertently.


Surprisingly, I heard right back from John Cook, the author, saying that a correction would be made. Sure enough, in today's PI, on page A2, they ran the following blurb:

Marchex Chief Executive Officer Russell Horowitz holds a concealed weapons permit. There is no license needed to own a gun in Washington State - as was implied in a story on Page C1 of Wednesday's Business Section.

Sure it's a small victory. And no one is going to read it (it's the PI for cryin' out loud), but I feel better.

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Henry Bowman
October 13, 2005, 02:57 PM
Good on 'ya! Good on the reporter!

But...I would expect the PI to be clear and accurate on local law, and not spread disinformation, even inadvertently. Your expectations are fantasy for the PI.

Standing Wolf
October 13, 2005, 04:07 PM
Good for you!

Dain Bramage
October 13, 2005, 04:14 PM
Your expectations are fantasy for the PI.

Ya, well. I also expected the governor's race to be decided by majority vote. :evil:

eagle45
October 13, 2005, 06:07 PM
Good job.

Baby steps today, running tomorrow. It is surprising and commendable that the correction was printed.

MD_Willington
October 13, 2005, 06:29 PM
There actually are licensed gun owners in WA state...but not licensed in the way you are thinking...


"If you are not a citizen of the United States, and you want to possess or carry any type of firearm, you must obtain an Alien Firearm License. This is mandated by Washington state law."


http://www.dol.wa.gov/forms/652010.htm


I've retained my AFL since 2002, as I am from Canada...


Obviously this license does not pertain to naturalized/natural born citizens of the US living in WA state, only aliens.

MD

Old Dog
October 13, 2005, 06:40 PM
It does occur to me, however -- every time I go back to California to visit relatives or spend time in other less gun-friendly states (NY, Maryland) that we in Washington state should be appreciative for our local newspapers relatively matter-of-fact reportage of gun-related stories (even the Times and the P-I). In other cities, in other states, there are far more inaccuracies in news stories (both print and television) plus a huge increase in "gun hysteria" (the phenomenom wherein all incidents involving firearms lead to stories demonizing guns and gun owners with large-scale hyperbole, glaring mistakes in accuracy and general hysteria).

In this state, at least, the Times, the P-I and most of our local rags are so used to citizens actually owning, using and carrying firearms, that reporters don't typically make the big deal of a citizen lawfully using a firearms (unless, as in the story that started this post, a high-profile citizen is involved). We are lucky here that (1) this state has a long and proud history of gun-ownership and (2) "Shall-issue" has been the rule here for so long (WA is the original shall-issue state) that the normally liberal media has gotten over it ...

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