Lima News: ''Who’s packing? Almost 2,000 area residents''

By Chad D. Baus

Gun owners have a general mistrust for the mainstream media, and rightly so. Over the years, having witnessed examples of poor and/or biased journalism ranging from images of fully-automatic rifles being fired during a story about the Clinton assault weapons ban (which had nothing to do with full-autos) to editorializing about gun legislation they later admit to not even having read. An even more direct journalistic attack on Ohio's gun owners came in for form of a few anti-gun editors who chose to publish the confidential [see ORC § 2923.129 (B)(1)] information of persons who have committed what these journalists apparently view as the "crime" of exercising their right to bear arms for self-defense by obtaining an Ohio concealed handgun license.

The list of grievances Ohio gun owners have against the mainstream media is long indeed. However, if, in the context of discussing these many biased journalistic attacks on the Second Amendment, The Lima News is raised in conversation among Ohio's grassroots gun owners, the comments will generally turn positive.

Click 'Read More' for the entire commentary.

Many who following the battle to pass Ohio's concealed carry law in the years leading up to is passage in 2004 will recall Lima News editorials pressing for passage of the law, editorials pointing out the good and the bad about the law that eventually did pass, and as recently as 2006, calling for the media access loophole to be closed:

    Closing the lists altogether makes sense. It’s not a popular opinion among newspaper people (the Ohio Newspaper Association, which this paper belongs to, opposes shutting off the lists).

    Certainly, keeping public records open is important in a free society, but owning and carrying a gun isn’t sufficient reason to have your name and address kept on file for anyone to access.

    Defining rights and privileges is important to this debate. You shouldn’t have to license yourself in order to exercise a freedom. It’s another thing if you look to take advantage of a privilege such as driving.

    For example, as the "public" owns the airwaves, we have government regulators who monitor what is aired on television and radio. There’s no government restriction on what we can print in the newspaper, although the threats to call the FCC do amuse us. There is the threat of libel, but while we can be sued, there’s no license for government to yank.

    This is also why the government isn’t supposed to place limits on what people say or how they worship.

    Fixing Ohio's conceal carry law will require lawmakers to remember they are trying to license a right, not a privilege.

On January 9, 2004, in the hours after then-Gov. Bob Taft forced the media access loophole language into the new law, the Lima News editorialized that while they believed "Ohio lawmakers have taken far too long in allowing residents of the state the ability to protect themselves", that "chief among the concerns we have about the bill passed Wednesday is that it forces people to register for what should be a right. Making a list of permit-holders a public record defeats the purpose of concealed carry. If someone knows for sure you are carrying, it's not really concealed." (emphasis added)

The large number of Northwest Ohio CHL-holders that contacted us upon learning that a new story concerning "who is packing" would be appearing in the newspaper will be pleased to learn the story is very much in keeping with the newspaper's editorial history.

From the story:

    There are 938 people in Allen County with a concealed-carry license.

    Afraid? Don’t be, says Steve Teutsch, a 14-year gun safety class instructor.

    “The people that do get the permits, they’ve jumped through all the hoops,” Teutsch said. “They’re upstanding people. They are the ones that follow the law. They are not the problem.”

    Little controversy has surrounded the concealed-carry law since it took effect April 8, 2004.

    There have been few, if any, documented problems involving concealed carry license holders, and area sheriffs said the law has been great for their communities.

    “I think it’s a great law,” Allen County Sheriff Daniel Beck said. “It is something Ohio needed.”

    Putnam County Sheriff James Beutler added, “I think [the concealed-carry law] has contributed to a decrease of crime in the United States.”

The story goes on to highlight quotes from several area CHL-holders, including a 91 year-old Lima man, a 64 year-old Lima woman, three Lima councilpersons, and even Thomas J. Lucente Jr., a columnist and editor for The Lima News, who obtained his license after he returned from the war in Iraq in 2004.

Again, from the story:

    The Lima News collected the names, dates of birth and counties of residence of every person in those five counties who holds a concealed-carry license.

    Along with 938 Allen County residents, there are 315 permit holders in Auglaize County, 185 in Van Wert County, 174 in Hardin County and 128 in Putnam County.

    The average age of a permit holder in the area is 51.

    Nearly half, 49.3 percent, of area permit holders fall between the ages of 50 and 69. A person has to be 21 to obtain a handgun, but only 8.9 percent of area permit holders are in their 20s.

    Concealed carry license holders are doctors, lawyers, bankers, teachers, city councilmen and everywhere in between. They say they obtained the licenses for a variety of reasons, but mostly just to feel safe.

    “I think law-abiding citizens should have the right and ability to defend themselves,” said 1st Ward Lima City Councilman Ray Magnus. “I carry a handgun with me everywhere. Matter of fact, I’ve got one on me right now in my vehicle. I’m a big proponent of concealed carry.”

The story notes that most CHL-holders are not public figures, but just regular, everyday people. Thankfully, the newspaper does NOT do to the regular, everyday people in Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin and Putnam counties what Sandusky Register editor Matt Westerhold did recently, taking what is conclusively not public and making it public by printing the names, ages and counties of residence of thousands of north-central Ohio CHL-holders.

Over the past several years, Buckeye Firearms Association has documented a large number of reasons why publishing the names of persons who are simply exercising their Constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense is a very bad and potentially dangerous idea. We are pleased that The Lima News chose to respect the intent of the past two General Assemblies by deciding NOT to publicize confidential information they have obtained at the eleventh-hour via a lame-duck media access loophole.

Newspapers often only hear from readers when they are unhappy. If you liked their story, please consider sending notes of praise to Lima News Editor Jim Krumel and reporter Zach Stipe:

    Jim Krumel, Editor
    Email: [email protected]

    Zach Stipe, Reporter
    Email: [email protected]

POLL: How do you feel about journalists publishing the names of CHL holders?

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