Conceal carry records question complicated, sheriffs say

SANDUSKY More than 2,600 residents in the five-county area received licenses to carry concealed weapons during the last three
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

SANDUSKY

More than 2,600 residents in the five-county area received licenses to carry concealed weapons during the last three years, according to records provided to the Register.

Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons granted the most, having issued 1,071 permits.

Some sheriffs said complying with a request from the Register for the names of permit holders was difficult because of the complexities of the state's conceal carry law, which was enacted in April 2004.

"The law says we can't keep them in a database and just pop them out," said Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton. "I just don't understand the way the law is written."

When state legislators approved the law they exempted the information from the state's public records act, which requires that most government documents be available for inspection by anyone who wants to see them.

The secrecy provision prevents members of the public from getting any information about who has been granted a concealed weapons license, who may have been rejected from getting one, and any and all information about the applications or required criminal background checks.

In fact, sheriffs in each county are required by the law to destroy all paperwork generated during the criminal background check process for the permit applicants.

But the lawmakers in Columbus added a provision that does allow journalists to request and receive only the name, date of birth and county of residence for each person granted a license to carry a concealed handgun.

The Register has posted the lists from each of the five counties in its circulation area on the newspaper's Web site.

Sheriff Lyons filed a lawsuit earlier this year contending the complexities of the statute made it impossible to lawfully provide the list of names to a journalist. The suit was shot down June 4, however, when Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone ruled the law clearly allowed for journalists to receive the information.

"I don't understand why news media would want to publish this information," said Seneca County Sheriff Tom Steyer.

The Register decided to make the information available to readers who want it as a public service. To access the lists, go to sanduskyregister.com and click on the appropriate header.

By the Numbers

How many residents are licensed to carry concealed handguns?

(By county)

Erie -- 1,071

Huron -- 367

Sandusky -- 329

Ottawa -- 644

Seneca -- 270