Thursday, December 10, 2015

Should journalists carry guns to public meetings? Weekly editors have myriad responses

Recent shootings in California and Colorado have once again opened the debate about the right to carry concealed weapons and whether or not citizens should be armed when in public. Should that right carry over to journalists covering public meetings? That's a question that was posed on the listserv of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. Barbara Selvin, of The Poynter Institute, has compiled a list of responses.

Here is a sample of some of the responses:

“In my town of 4,000? In my county of 25,000? I don’t see the need, and I don’t know if I can conceive of the circumstance where I would.” -Brad Martin, editor of the Hickman County Times in Centerville, Tenn.

“Do I really want the responsibility of carrying a deadly weapon, capable of taking a life, around with me? Am I really mature enough to be trusted with that responsibility?” -David Pugh, news editor at the Archbold Buckeye in Archbold, Ohio.

“As journalists, our weapons are words, used wisely and appropriately.” -Bill Tubbs, owner and publisher of the North Scott Press in Eldridge, Iowa.

“I conceal carry a firearm most of the time when I am out and about. You never know what you are going to run into, and my personal feeling [is] that I would rather have the gun with me and never have to use it than not. I even have a pistol hidden in my office in the case that I need it.” -Gregory J. Lamoureux, publisher of the County Courier in Northwestern Vermont’s Franklin County.

“I might never be armed; I might always be armed; I might sometimes be armed. Let’s just leave it at that.” -Bobby Mayberry, Cairo Citizen in Cairo, Illinois.

“I testify occasionally at committee hearings for the Texas Legislature regarding issues dealing with newspapers. The line to get into the capitol can be rather daunting, especially when you are late for a committee hearing. (With a permit) you can bypass the line, show your license and go on in to the capitol. Strange as it sounds, having a concealed gun gets you in easier.” -Cyndy Slovak-Barton, publisher since 1985 of Barton Publications in central Texas.

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