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Thread: Concealed owners: Sheriffs consider if handgun permits should be open to public view

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    Concealed ownersSheriffs consider if handgun permits should be open to public view

    By Matt Cooper

    The Register-Guard

    Posted to Web: Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009 11:58AM
    Appeared in print: Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009, page A4


    News: Local: Story

    Lane County Sheriff Russ Burger says the holders of concealed handgun licenses have spoken: Don’t release our information to the media or anybody else in the public.

    Burger and other Oregon sheriffs have been sending letters to holders of concealed weapons permits to determine whether they want that information available to the public.

    It’s the latest turn in a dispute over whether the public should have the right to know who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon and whether permit holders have a right to privacy based on personal security considerations.

    The letters say newspapers and others are trying to get lists of people who have concealed handgun permits, sparking a legal challenge that’s pending in the Oregon Court of Appeals.

    Following a request for the license information from The Mail Tribune newspaper in Medford, the Jackson County Circuit Court ruled last April that individuals must specify that they don’t want any personal information released. If not, their names are public record, the court said.

    While the decision has been appealed, sheriffs started sending letters last fall to concealed handgun license holders, asking them whether they want their names made public if it is requested as an Oregon public record.

    There are more than 11,000 holders of concealed handgun licenses in Lane County. In response to letters he’s sent out, Burger said Monday that license holders “overwhelmingly” want the information kept private.

    Burger said he will withhold the information of license holders who want it protected, but will release it for those who don’t care or support the release.

    The department’s move is a reversal from the situation in 2007, when it responded to a request by The Register-Guard by providing the names of the holders of the licenses. The newspaper sought the information in conjunction with a story about public school teachers’ right to bear arms on the job.

    The opposition of most sheriffs to publicly releasing those records is not a new development.

    A statewide audit of public agencies, conducted in 2005 by The Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists, showed widespread resistance to requests to see concealed handgun permit applications, with access granted in only eight of 36 counties.

    Burger said he has always opposed release of the information but now has the backing of most consulted license holders.

    “It gives us a legal basis to deny a request for the information, because the person has spoken,” Burger said.

    Some with concealed handguns say release of the information could encourage theft of firearms.

    Walter, a Lane County resident in his early 60s who agreed to speak to the issue on the condition that only his first name be released, said there could be liability concerns for a gun owner if a firearm is stolen and used illegally.

    “It’s very important for gun owners to protect that arm,” he said.

    But Lane County Commissioner Bill Dwyer, who owns a .45 automatic under a concealed handgun license, said the records should be open except for those who request confidentiality. He’s not worried about the possibility of weapons theft, he said.

    “I would think the criminal ought to be threatened — they know I’m armed and I’m not going to let any intruders come and take over my life,” he said.

    As the appeals court mulls the issue, Oregon lawmakers are pursuing legislation to take those records completely out of public view by prohibiting their release under the Oregon public records law.

    House Bill 2727, which has broad support in the Legislature among both Democrats and Republicans, would prohibit concealed weapons license information from being publicly disclosed.

    Open government advocates say, however, that those records always have been public and that Oregonians should have the right to check to see who is getting concealed weapons permits from local sheriffs.

    “Let’s say you have a neighbor who is acting irrationally, and maybe even threatening you. Shouldn’t you be able to find out if he has a concealed weapons permit?” said Judson Randall, president of Open Oregon, a press freedom advocacy group, and a former senior editor at The Oregonian.

    State Rep. Kim Thatcher, one of the chief sponsors of the bill, said public release of that information “defeats the whole point of having a concealed weapons permit.”

    “This is a safety issue for a lot of these people,” the Keizer Republican said. “Revealing their records unbeknownst to them could attract stalkers, identity thieves and people who could otherwise do them harm.”

    Besides, she said, the 109,000 Oregonians who have concealed weapons licenses are law-abiding citizens who have undergone background checks and firearms training to get those permits and there’s no good reason to make their records public.

    Leading gun owner groups are strongly backing Thatcher’s bill. “People get these licenses to protect their own security and to protect their loved ones. It makes them uneasy to think that it’s public knowledge that they have firearms in their homes,” said Rod Harder, the Oregon consultant for the National Rifle Association of America Inc.

    But an open records advocate said supporters of the bill have made no compelling case for further chipping away at Oregon’s public records law by closing off the gun permit records from public disclosure.

    “What is the privacy interest in this case? What abuse has occurred as a result of these records being open?” said Tim Gleason, dean of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism.

    Those records should remain open as a practical safety matter, Gleason added.

    “What if you’re an abuse victim, and you want to know if the person who’s abusing you is carrying a concealed weapon?” he said. “That seems like a legitimate question to ask.”

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  2. #2
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    I wonder if they will publish a list of everyone that has HIV? I would certainly want to know if MY neighbor had that!
    Chuck Norris/Ted Nugent That's the ticket for 2016!

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    Thanks for the article Ory. As always, they completely COMPLETELY miss the safety point. "Someone is stalking you" or "Your neighbor is acting irrationally" so don't you want to know if they have a CWP? The implication being that you could further protect yourself if these people had a CWP? WHAT? If someone is going to break the law with a gun not having a CWP is not going to stop them. The implication that someone with a CWP will have a gun and use it illegally is an outrage.

    Knowing whether someone has a CWP does not tell you anything about whether they have a gun. All it tells you is that they are already law abiding citizens.


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    I find it interesting that the radical loony left media organizations would NOT want the addresses of convicted child rapists, etc published... I wonder if that has ever been thrown in the faces of these newspapers, etc.


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    It is now a question on the Washington county application for a CWP, two quetion ask if you want the info kept private or not.

    So he is listening to us.

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