SUTTER COUNTY (CBS13) — A local sheriff’s Facebook post is sparking controversy over the privacy rights of law-abiding gun owners and the public’s right to know about carrying concealed weapons licenses within his county.
The Facebook post is pitting The Sutter County Sheriff’s Office against the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Sutter County’s Ken Pike is a CCW license holder and owns a .45 caliber handgun he keeps under his shirt most days.
“I carry a Kimber .45,” Pike said. “I can protect you, I can protect myself.”
Pike is now frustrated. He says he feels, “exposed, violated.”
He read the Facebook post by the Sutter County Sheriff, that shares a letter addressed to CCW license holders, explaining the San Francisco Chronicle filed a public records act request asking for their license information.
The Chronicle’s editor-in-chief Audrey Cooper issued a statement reading: “The sheriff’s tactics’ to unnecessarily raise [the] alarm of law-abiding gun owners will not discourage us from seeking this public information…”
Cooper says the reporter who filed the initial request has now been threatened and she plans to refile the request in her own name. She calls the sheriff’s Facebook post “political.”
CBS13’s Steve Large asked Sheriff Brandon Barnes if he made the Facebook post for political gain.
“No, not at all,” Barnes said “I’m a newly-elected sheriff. I’m in my first year in office.”
Barnes says he used Facebook to get his message out quickly and had already seen the subject discussed on the platform by other elected officeholders in the area. He says he was unaware of any threats made to the Chronicle reporters.
“I have never named anyone other than the San Francisco Chronicle and so I’m not sure how that could be placed back on me personally,” Barnes said.
The CCW license application includes a section explaining it may be a matter of public record.
“You know, it’s right there in black and white,” Pike said. “Yes, they are entitled to that information, but I don’t have to be happy about it.”
Taking aim at protecting first and second amendment rights, it’s triggered a heated debate in Sutter County.
The Chronicle’s editor-in-chief tells CBS13 they have no intention of releasing license holder’s names or other private information.