Legislation proposed this week as part of the Ohio senate budget plan would seal the records of more than 400,000 concealed carry permit holders in the state, so that the records would no longer be accessible, not even to the media.
Currently, the records cannot be obtained by the general public without a court order, but members of the media have the option of submitting a request to the sheriff’s office for access to the records. If granted permission, journalists are able to view the name, date of birth and county of residence on the handgun permits. However, they are not allowed to make copies of the information or even possess a writing instrument while viewing the records.
Sen. Joe Uecker, who introduced the change Tuesday, told local media that anytime the list – and the private information therein – is made accessible, people are put at risk, noting different cases where access to the information has been exploited. One of the most notable instances of abuse was shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary when a New York newspaper published a map detailing the addresses of concealed carry permit holders.
Jim Irvine, president of Ohio-based Buckeye Firearms Association, agrees the information contained on the list should remain private and that “no public good” can come out of even allowing media access to it.
But Ohio Newspaper Association Executive Director Dennis Hetzel said he knows of not one single occurrence where the access in Ohio has been abused, but explained that journalists use the information when reporting to gather details on a story, such as whether a person accused of a crime was a concealed carry permit holder.
Hetzel added that access to the information is already so tight and the regulations restrictive, that coordinating something such as the New York fiasco would be “all but impossible.” He said he was disappointed to see the proposal again, which was unsuccessfully introduced during the last legislative session.
Still, Uecker said many gun rights advocates believe access to the information is a violation of their Second Amendment rights, but Hetzel argued, “The First Amendment should be as important as the Second Amendment.”