Gun advocates are praising Ohio politicians who support keeping secret the identities of residents who have been granted licenses to carry concealed handguns.
Gov. Ted Strickland's office, state Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island, and state Rep. Matt Barrett, D-Amherst, all said they support the 2004 law as written, which includes a secrecy provision exempting information about the licensing program from the public record.
Ashley Varner, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association said all three men are listening to their constituents, not just the NRA.
"The only reason the NRA has any power in Ohio is we have a lot of members who care about protecting their Second Amendment rights," she said.
Varner said newspapers that publish the names and county of residence of concealed handgun permit holders are putting innocent people at unnecessary risk.
"There are women who are hiding from abusive husbands or boyfriends," she said. "These are single women who may have been who may be afraid of stalkers, people who have been attacked previously and are threatened with repeat attacks."
Public records advocates contend public disclosure is the only way to assure the licensing program is not being abused or mishandled.
Varner said the vast majority of people who have been granted concealed handgun licenses are law-abiding citizens, according to federal studies and FBI statistics.
"People with licenses are the most law-abiding citizens in our country," she said. "Less than 2 percent are involved in criminal activity. Criminals do not go through background checks to obtain guns."
Jeff Garvas, president of the advocacy group, Ohioans for Concealed Carry, said in addition to the threat of criminals stealing their guns, concealed handgun license holders can be subject to discrimination if their names are made public.
Employers and landlords who don't agree with gun ownership could refuse to hire or rent to them, he said.
"There needs to be a balance between oversight and protecting the privacy of individuals who've done nothing wrong," Garvas said.
Garvas contends that newspapers across the state don't like that concealed carry permit holders' identities were legally private thanks to a public records "loophole" in the 2004 law.
He said these same newspapers were taking those lists and publishing them for political purposes.
"They've bulk published the names as a political statment because they're opposed to the records being available only to journalists," Garvas said.
Garvas said newspapers have abused the journalist loophole that allow reporters to receive the list of licensees.
"Why is the news media the overseer?" he asked. "There isn't a single news agency in any part of Ohio that has done a comprehensive review of every single license issued and tried to impose some sort of oversight ... The Legislature made the information available. (Journalists) are actively abusing it."
EDITOR'S NOTE: The decision to make the lists available to readers was made by the Register's managing editor. All inquiries should be directed to 419-609-5866 or email@example.com
CLICK HERE to view the Erie County A-L concealed carry list.
CLICK HERE to view the Erie County M-Z concealed carry list.
CLICK HERE to view the Huron County concealed carry list.
CLICK HERE to view the Ottawa County concealed carry list.
CLICK HERE to view the Sandusky County concealed carry list.