HomeCrimeCrooked WV Sheriff Declares That the 2nd Amendment Trumps the 1st, Gun-Fetishists Rejoice! (Video)

Crooked WV Sheriff Declares That the 2nd Amendment Trumps the 1st, Gun-Fetishists Rejoice! (Video)

Ohio County, West Virginia — On March 4th, a staff writer for two local newspapers in Ohio County filed a request with the Sheriff’s office, requesting a list of concealed carry permit holders in the area under the Freedom of Information Act. Even though the list was considered public information under West Virginia’s FOIA, Sheriff Patrick Butler (legal custodian of the records) unilaterally denied the request. He afterward took to Facebook, proudly posting his letter of refusal to the acclaim of local gun owners:

He wrote a notice, along with the letter:

“The citizens of Ohio County voted me into office to protect them, and their property. Publishing their names as valid permit holders is an invasion of their privacy, and puts them at unnecessary risk. With drug-related crimes such as home burglaries, armed pharmacy robberies, and shoplifting at an all-time high, anyone with criminal intent could target permit holders knowing that they most likely keep firearms in their homes.

Alternatively, names not on the list could be targeted as unarmed, and less likely to defend themselves during a robbery. For the aforementioned reasons, I refuse to compromise the safety of the citizens of Ohio County. An appeal of this decision may be filed with the Ohio County Clerk of Court.”

They posted this to Facebook as well:

Some commenters said that the newspaper reporter and his editor should be “run out of town,” echoing the results of an oddly similar occurrence in North Carolina. In February of last year, The Cherokee Scout’s editor Robert Horne resigned and left town, after requesting the same records (legally, under the FOIA) of Murphy’s sheriff Keith Lorvin. Lorvin turned him town, posted the refusal letter on Facebook, and public reaction against Horne’s newspaper effectively forced him to resign and leave town. The newspaper later apologized for its “tremendous error in judgement,” and said that it only wanted the records to report on how many people had CCWs in the area. It never had any intention of publishing the names, as some others, like the controversial Journal News, have.

Murphy, NC was later called by blogger Jim Romenesko “The place where journalism went to die.”

The paper’s editor, Mike Myer, says he won’t be pulling a Horne though. He told the Columbia Journalism Review:

“Nobody’s going to run me out of my home.”

In fact, Myer doubled down by sending similar FOIA requests to the Sheriff’s offices of six surrounding counties — five of them flatly turned him down, just as Butler and Lorvin did. If you’re beginning to see a slightly systemic abuse of the law here, then you’re not the first. Myer said:

“Obviously you’re in a slippery slope situation if a sheriff can unilaterally deny a request for that type of public record,” Myer says. “What kind of record is he likely to deny next?”

(Probably any type the NRA tells him to, as they’re currently backing a bill stalled in the state legislature to make such records private, as they are in many other states. Butler’s contradictory “logic,” such as it is, is standard NRA fearmongering. “You’re a target if you’re on the list, and a target if you’re not. You’re just a target…buy more guns!)

And make no mistake — what these people have done is a crime. Even Butler acknowledges that, as he joked to CJR, and commented to the local TV news station:

“I may end up in jail…I disagree with that and I am going to disagree with that until the day I’m out of office.”

Here’s the news report:

So, what penalties might Butler and the rest of his lawbreaking Sheriff friends be subject to if/when they’re found guilty of blatantly disregarding the FOIA? From the West Virginia FIOA:

Lawsuit Against the Sheriff’s Department:

“Any person denied the right to inspect a public record of a public body may sue the public body in circuit court for injunctive or declaratory relief under the Freedom of Information Act. The burden is on the public body to prove to the satisfaction of the court that the records sought are exempt from disclosure. If successful, the person bringing the suit may recover his or her attorney fees and court costs from the public body that denied access to the records.”

Criminal Penalties for the Sheriff:

“Any custodian of a public record who willfully violates the Act is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction may be fined from $100.00 to $500.00 or imprisoned in the county jail for up to ten (10) days, or both.”

Will any of this get Butler or the other Sheriffs kicked out of office? He would still meet the state’s minimum requirements to hold office. But would he be voted in? Public reaction is predictably split:

 

So, Butler may get voted out, and he may not. But, it’s hard to be Sheriff when you can’t be a police officer. The requirements to be a police officer in WV are hazy on the subject of criminal convictions: You must “pass a background check, and be of good character” without any “serious criminal convictions.”

And who decides what constitutes “good character” and a “serious conviction” in Ohio County?

Guess.

Just the other day, we said in an article on Women’s Self-Defense Classes in Glendale, CA that there are exceptions to every rule. Exceptions get made every day, and they’re a part of any healthy, functioning system of law. Justice is the exercise of judicious mercy, after all.

But those exceptions are granted to other people by the people in charge…not to the people in charge by themselves. Obfuscation of government function, unilaterally showing preferential treatment to your supporters, at the expense of the law you swore to uphold; that’s not justice. It’s totalitarianism. That’s something our Tea Party friends never can seem to stop talking about:

Tyranny.

Former Overpass organizer and Tea Party Conservatives leader (pre-GOATing) CJ Ross:

Huge H/T: The Columbia Journalism Review and WTOV. Thanks to Facebook King John Prager for the comment screencaps.

About Richard Rowe

Richard Rowe
Richard Rowe is a full-time freelance writer who has written over 3 million words in the last four years alone -- mostly on automotive and technical subjects. He's also a seventh-generation native Floridian, and was born and raised in the Ocala National Forest. Richard's passions include cars and machines of all varieties (including guns), building hot rods and engines, engineering, history, philosophy, theology, gardening and stopping Florida's Corporate Republican invaders. He doesn't believe in following any one party, group or ideology, and prefers to think about each situation as it comes. He has several projects in the works right now, including a series of books on driving, fuel economy and the future of the automobile, one on applying the principles of thermodynamics to global economics, a Taoist perspective on applying physics and mathematics to sprituality and religion, and another on the role of the Industrial Revolution in ending slavery. Sooner or later, he'll write some fiction. The first edition of the first auto book (titled "The Hypermiler's Bible -- Basic Edition") will be out for sale on Amazon by the year's end; specialty editions of the same book will follow, as will the rest of the series.
  • proudamerican

    Crooked Sheriff? Are you people out of your minds?

  • Richard Rowe

    Personally, I don’t care. If those people chose to work at an abortion clinic, then that was their choice to make. They knew good an well they weren’t handing out jelly beans for a living, and they chose to cash the checks anyway. That’s a matter of personal responsibility, and they assume the risk for the action.

    I hold CCW holders to the same standard. They knew what they were signing when they signed it. I really don’t have a problem with the state not giving out that information…Florida doesn’t, for better or worse. A lot of states don’t. But that’s the state’s decision…as in a decision made at the state level, by officials elected to represent the will of the population, and see that it becomes law.

    What I have a problem with are these little would-be Kings of Hicktown, deciding that they’re going to set up their own private fiefdoms, and run them how they see fit. If you want to have the debate over whether WV CCW holders’ information should be public record, then fine…it’s happening right now. If the state decides to pass that, then it’s law. If people don’t stand outside the state capitol building picketing its passage, and they don’t raise their voices against it, then they’ve voted with their silence. But the people will have spoken even in saying nothing.

    In a democratically elected government, the people have final say over what’s legal and what isn’t within their own borders, provided they act within the authority given to them by whatever authority is higher. The Kings of Podunk are spitting in the faces of our democratic republic every time they take it upon themselves to set policy, when they have no authority to do such a thing.

    Worse, they do it in the name of “protecting the second amendment,” which even by their logic is “the amendment that protects all others.” But what are they protecting when by their very actions, they’re saying that they don’t believe in the system of government created by the framers of the Constitution? No, they don’t give a damn about protecting anything but their own incumbency, and that’s as far as it goes.

  • JFischer

    Most burglars wait until the house is empty or the inhabitants are asleep. Were I a burglar, I’d burgle empty houses, and if those houses had guns, I’d learn how to break into the gun safes. Don’t think those ‘concealed safes’ would be protected: I’d steal the free-standing clock on the off-chance that it held a gun (I could still hock it if it was a mere clock), and if I saw what looked like leather-bound ‘inspirational’ books in a house with no books (or mostly cheap paperbacks), I’d grab them, too.

    Why?

    Because burglars can get those catalogs full of shooting supplies, and see the merchandise.

    Unless you made a deal with a Decepticon, your unattended gun will NOT defend your house.

  • https://www.facebook.com/jdkardash John Kardash

    I see no valid reason to make such a FOIA request. Why does anybody need this list?

  • Tom Nelson

    Sad to say it, but the he’s actually doing the right thing here: Mass dumps of info like this are a terrible idea. If the paper wanted JUST the number of permit holders, sure, that is data that should be forked over.

    Would you be rooting for a request made to the DMV for the name, address, car make & model for every registered vehicle in the state? I sure as hell wouldn’t, because it’s pretty much just begging to be abused. Now, if you wanted to know how many Toyotas were in the state, sure, that’s much less exploitable. The real problem here is the lack of codified protection for this data, and in this day and age that is wholly unacceptable.

  • Moshood Adeniji

    Huge hole in his reasoning. People will be targeted because they have guns (even though that was always said to be a deterrent), but also they will be targeted if they don’t have a gun. I’m pretty sure any burglar would know that each household either has a gun/guns or none at all and would prepare for the worst in a robbery.

  • https://plus.google.com/116982555092773385956 Keith Davis

    Cops are above the law, didn’t you KNOW that?

  • Dee

    What? I can settle this right here and now. The newspaper says it wants the list not to publish the names and addresses on the list but only to publish the AMOUNT of concealed and carry permits in the area. Sheriff, give them just that, you know, count 1…2…3… etc. Or maybe you don’t have enough fingers and toes… ? See, everybody’s happy.

  • Lyle Awl

    If the POTUS can selectively enforce the ACA and immigration law because it’s in the best interests of the people these laws affect, then this sheriff can do the same.

    Why is there no discussion about the propriety of such a request in absolute terms? This is just like the leeches who post arrest records and extort individuals for thousands to remove them just because they can. Just because you can means you should, right?

    Right…

    • Kurt B

      Good points! The Left shows selective outrage concerning ‘sanctuary cities’ and the executive fiat Obama and Holder exercise whenever it suits them.

    • Richard Rowe

      @ Lyle and KurtB: How did I know somebody was going to say it? OK, let me clarify this for you constitutional scholars: Obama can do that because he has the constitutionally granted power to do it. All presidents are given the power to selectively enforce laws, or more accurately not to PROSECUTE, via the pardon. Obama’s decision not to prosecute for certain offenses is no different than him signing a million pardons a day for those same offenses. Which he could damned well do if he wanted to. In fact if he REALLY wanted to, he could grant de facto amnesty to every illegal alien in America by telling them to turn themselves in, then signing one pardon with 20 million names on it. He could do it, and get away with it. But, you know…sucks that he’s not the “tyrant” you’ve been trying to tell us he is since before he got elected.

      Regardless…the Sheriff of Podunkville doesn’t have that power. Much as he’d like to, he does not have the power to grant pardons, and decide which laws he’s going to enforce. That decision was made on the state and federal level, And regardless of THAT…again, if Obama wants to allow OTHER people to not follow a law, that’s nothing that prosecuting attorneys and cops haven’t been doing forever. Sheriff Bosephus is excepting HIMSELF, and only himself, from following the law. Please, don’t play dumb and act as if you don’t know there’s a difference.

      “Why is there no discussion?” Because CCW permit holders knew what they were signing when they signed it. They knew it was public record, and they made the decision, all by themselves, to apply for a CCW anyway. Same as you or I agree to a sobriety test when we sign for a drivers license. A concealed carry permit isn’t a divine birthright…it’s something you get with the permission of the issuing authority, and there are conditions. If you don’t like the conditions, don’t apply for one.

      • Dee

        “In fact if he REALLY wanted to, he could grant de facto amnesty to every illegal alien in America by telling them to turn themselves in, then signing one pardon with 20 million names on it.” Isn’t this what Reagan did?

      • http://www.gunsafetyblog.com GSP

        @Richard Rowe

        How did you feel when Operation Rescue posted the names and home addresses of abortion clinic workers?

        • http://facebook.com/evilliberalagenda John Prager

          All the guy was doing was compiling statistics. Nowhere near the same thing. Nice try, though.

          • http://www.gunsafetyblog.com GSP

            As if no newspaper would post the names in a searchable public DB…

          • http://facebook.com/evilliberalagenda John Prager

            So you are saying it is not a problem because it’s public information? Good to know you feel that way. But no–he was compiling statistics.

          • http://www.gunsafetyblog.com GSP

            It is the bad faith behind posting the names and addresses that I have a problem with.

          • http://www.gunsafetyblog.com GSP

            So would you oppose a newspaper publicly posting the names of permit holders then?

  • majiir

    The guy Todd Ruthers is an ignorant tool if he thinks liberals don’t own guns, and that we’re relying on the president to defend us in any emergency. I ordered a gun about three weeks ago and picked it up last week. It is loaded and ready to go, and I know how to use it. I completed the paperwork for a background check in the store. It was easy peasy. Knew I’d pass it because I’ve never run afoul of the law or been afflicted with a severe mental illness. THIS is why I don’t understand why some oppose enhanced background checks—-unless they want to allow convicted felons and the mentally ill to own guns. I plan to get a concealed carry permit for this weapon, too. I don’t mind anyone knowing I have a cc permit because it lets them know that if they step, I step, and I won’t be stepping unarmed. All of this fear mongering about guns makes no sense to me, and the idea of attacking the newspaper columnist and dropping one’s subscription over this seem preposterous to me. I think some of those responding to the sheriff’s Facebook posting are doing so to receive attention, and in the hope that they’ll be seen as ‘rill’ patriots instead of the gun fetishists that they are.

    • Jleavesl

      The reason some, myself included, oppose it is that your ‘enhanced’ background checks are carried out in a way that could be used to compile a registry. As the Democrat Party leadership is strongly opposed to the individual right to keep and bear arms (look to the NY Safe Act, Connecticut’s recent gun laws, and California as a whole) it isn’t unreasonable to assume that placing that information in the hands of the government could and probably will eventually be used to confiscate them.

      There are ways to do this without keeping a record of who owns what (it was proposed, but I can’t remember whom off the top of my head), but that was shot down unilaterally in favor of the failed Manchin-Toomey bill.

  • http://daksden.wordpress.com dakotahgeo

    These WV backwoods hillbillies present a very strong case for abortion.

  • http://jade4142.wordpress.com jade4142

    So the Sheriff breaks the and then he tells everyone in his area that the newspaper requested the information, clearly wanting the newspaper to pay a price for this request. I’m sure he’s congratulating himself for protecting “his” people. I’m sure the people who carry guns in that county are happy tonight, and I’m sure the Sheriff broke the law. There is no excuse or right to wriggle out when you break a law. So what happens when laws are broken? Deputies go out and find the perps, arrest them, and put them in jail. The Sheriff is a perp. They should arrest him and put him in his own jail for breaking the law. Of course, they won’t. But someone will when the lawsuit is filed. They’ll have to give him his own cell. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be there.

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