Taft Defending Moving Cheese; Changing Rules; Veto Threat

The Associated Press is reporting that Governor Taft is defending his threat to veto House Bill 12. However, they are not reporting that he has yet used his authority to veto the Act.

Since this issue was first raised a month ago, Ohioans For Concealed Carry warned the public that Governor Taft and the Ohio Newspaper Association were only interested in one thing: Printing the names of every licensee in the newspaper to intimidate applicants and endanger Ohioans by advertising the homes of known gun owners.

According to this AP story, Governor Taft's compromise, rejected in late Wednesday night, would allow the news media and only the news media access to every single name in every county without reasoning:

"Taft offered his own compromise: allow only reporters access to the records. The Senate agreed; the House did not."

This proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Governor Taft's demand that this information remain public record never had anything to do with the public in general being able to look up their neighbors or co-workers, and had everything to do with pleasing a coalition of newspapers who want to print the names of license holders.

"Allowing the media access to these records but excluding the general public is a bad policy that tramples on the rights of ordinary citizens," Cleveland Plain Dealer Editor Douglas Clifton said yesterday. "These records should be open to everyone."

Apparently the "Taft shaft" omits itself from no person or advocacy group.

For years, Taft said law enforcement would have to accept the bill before he would sign it. Now he's saying he wants the records public so the media can verify law enforcement is following the permit process. Does Taft trust law enforcement or not? His latest actions indicate he trusts their judgement enough to demand their support and hide behind their concerns, but doesn't trust them to conduct the licensing process in a legal manner.

The Associated Press Story can be read by clicking here:

Governor: public records provision too narrow in weapons bill

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
The Associated Press
12/12/2003, 12:07 a.m. ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. Bob Taft defended his threat to veto the first bill to land on his desk allowing people to carry hidden guns, saying it didn't provide enough access to permit records.

"We really came very close to a bill that I could sign and it's regrettable that we did not, but the public records portion of the bill is simply too limiting," Taft said Thursday. "We were working very hard yesterday to work with the legislators to reach consensus on a bill. Unfortunately we didn't make it."

Taft originally wanted the names of concealed gun permit holders to be a public record.

His fellow Republican lawmakers balked, but responded with a compromise that would have allowed reporters to access permits only after they provide the names of people whose records they are requesting.

A similar provision exists in law involving information about police officers and firefighters.

Taft offered his own compromise: allow only reporters access to the records. The Senate agreed; the House did not.

Taft's request was necessary "to monitor the integrity of the permitting process," spokesman Orest Holubec said Thursday. "As with all government activity, the press and public need to be sure sheriffs are doing their job, to make sure the right people are getting permits."

Taft cited laws in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Texas allowing some information about permit holders to be released under those state's open records laws.

Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico and Washington have laws shielding the names of permit holders, according to the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, which opposes allowing hidden guns.

Ohio is the first state where discussion has involved limiting the information to journalists, said Luis Tolley, director of state legislation for the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"Most concealed weapons laws in the past had no secrecy clauses at all," Tolley said Thursday. "Efforts by the proponents to keep the identity of concealed weapon holders is a relatively new phenomenon."

A message was left with the National Rifle Association seeking comment.

The governor also praised lawmakers Thursday for making progress on public safety issues in the bill.

House Speaker Larry Householder says he believes he has the votes to override Taft's veto. Senate President Doug White said he does not have enough override votes.

The bill passed by the House and Senate late Wednesday would allow Ohioans to carry concealed weapons after passing a background check and completing safety training.

Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans For Concealed Carry, urged Taft to sign the bill. He said the governor had changed his position again, moving from concern over law enforcement support to the public records issue.

Taft raised the records issue in a letter to legislative leaders Nov. 18.

"This is Taft moving the goal post over and over again," Garvas said. "At the very end, when a compromise was reached among the parties, he decided to throw a new requirement in."

Toby Hoover, director of Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, urged Taft to veto the bill.

"For the governor to take a look at what the finished product looks like and say, 'This is still lacking,' is not unusual or any different than what any legislator does. He's doing his job."

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