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A "Pillar" Of The First Amendment Discriminates Against The Second

Friday, October 26, 2007

Earlier this year, Virginia’s Roanoke Times newspaper came under intense scrutiny and near-universal condemnation after its editors made the irresponsible and dangerous choice to post a searchable database of Virginia’s Right-to-Carry permit holders on its website.  In doing so, the paper provided anyone with access to the internet (including criminals) the name, home address, and permit issuance and expiration date of more than 135,000 Virginia permit holders. 

Thankfully, after hearing from outraged, law-abiding gun owners and non-gun owners alike, the paper prudently decided to remove the database from its website and not repost it, citing a “concern for public safety.” 

Now, after igniting and enduring that firestorm of criticism, the Roanoke Times is once again up to its anti-gun antics. 

Local gun show promoter “Showmasters” recently contacted the paper to advertise for its upcoming Roanoke Valley Gun Show and was told in no uncertain terms that the Roanoke Times would no longer accept advertising for gun shows.  Specifically, Mary Whelchel, the Retail Advertising Manager for the paper said in an e-mail to Annette Elliott of Showmasters, “The Roanoke Times has amended their policy after the Virginia Tech massacre.  It was initiated in the advertising department to be more in line with our editorial stance [emphasis added] and I think you know what that is.  I have nothing good to tell you.  We will no longer accept advertising from The Roanoke Valley Gun Show.”  In a subsequent e-mail, Welchel qualified the paper’s stance, saying “To restate our policy, we only accept advertising for firearms and accessories from licensed dealers [emphasis added].   

In the first place, the horrible murders at Virginia Tech had nothing to do with gun shows whatsoever.  Further, by mentioning the tragedy, and worse, using it for justification for their illogical decision, the paper exposes its apparent intent to exploit and sensationalize the murders to further its own internal anti-gun agenda.  What’s more, Welchel plainly states the outrageous admission that the paper’s editorial stance dictates what’s allowed in the paper!  How’s that for unbiased? 

Secondly, the paper’s decision to accept advertising for firearms and accessories only from licensed dealers is blatantly discriminatory.  If an auto show were coming to town, would the Roanoke Times demand the licenses of every car dealer and individual vendor displaying at the show before the editorial department would grant permission to advertise the event in its paper?  Of course not.  That would be an arbitrary and absurd reaction.  And that’s the point. 

Members and pro-gun citizens should contact the Roanoke Times to express their outrage over the paper’s blatant, ongoing anti-gun stance. 

You can reach the paper at: www.roanoke.com/; or Mary Whelchel (Retail Advertising Manager) by e-mail at mary.whelchel@roanoke.com, or by phone at  (540) 981-3378. 

You can cancel your subscription by calling (540) 981-3211, or (800) 346-1234.

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