Letters to Editor Correct False Reporting on Firearms Legislation

On September 14, the Middletown Journal published an editorial in which it repeated false assertions made by an Associated Press reporter about Rep. Jim Aslanides' new firearms law reform legislation.

The newspaper has now published two letters to the editor which seek to correct their false reports and/or assertions.

    Sept. 20, 2005
    Middletown Journal

    I am writing to correct an assertion made in your editorial (“Weakened Taft won’t be able to block gun law changes,” Sept. 14) that Rep. Aslanides’ new legislation would “try to concealed the identities of concealed-weapons permit holders from the public.” You were also incorrect in reporting that “under the new bill, reporters could only check with county sheriffs for specific names.”

    We are aware of the Associated Press’ erroneous reporting on this matter, which may in fact be the source of your own false reporting. But the truth is that this bill would in no way remove the media access loophole. Instead, the bill would make Ohio law mirror a federal statute with regard to drivers’ licenses, by allowing people to opt out of the public records provision if they swear under threat of perjury that they have reasonable cause to believe having their information made public could endanger them or a member of their family.

    In our opinion, this is an excellent compromise. The media’s (and thus public’s) access to license-holders’ information is kept intact, while persons who are desperate to keep their whereabouts a secret from stalkers or abusive ex-spouses, for example, can opt to protect themselves.

    The Middletown Journal has a responsibility to its readers to read the proposed legislation, which can be downloaded at www.buckeyefirearms.org, before it editorializes on something it clearly is not familiar with.

    Chad D. Baus
    Vice Chairman
    Buckeye Firearms Association

A second letter also addressed the Middletown Journal's editorial:

    “The provision requiring guns in cars be kept in full view was a nod to the law enforcement community. If Aslanides’ new bill becomes law, police officers will have to assume that every routine traffic stop could involve a driver carrying a concealed handgun.”

    Ohio is the only state in the country with the absurd provision that a concealed handgun license does not allow you to conceal your firearm in your vehicle. Police are already trained to assume every routine stop could involve a driver carrying a firearm. Not only are you required to inform a law enforcement officer that you have a firearm but the officer also has access to that information when your licence plate is run.

    Had the writer bothered to check with law enforcement, he or she would have heard the same thing we have: they are opposed to this requirement as well. This is a useless requirement that contributes nothing to officer safety, and merely creates opportunities for accidental infractions if the firearm become unintentionally concealed.

    “Under the new bill, reporters could only check with county sheriffs for specific names.”

    Completely untrue. The new provision simply allows for those who have cause to fear criminal attack (a fleeing abused spouse, for example) to provide that information to the sheriff and not be included in the release of names.

    “Next week the sponsor of the original bill will begin that incremental weakening of the state law.”

    In reality, what is happening is that the law has proven what the rest of the country already knows: licensed concealed carry firearms are a threat to nobody except those who would intentionally harm their fellow man. Due to the law’s success, it is now time to improve it and bring some of the provisions more in line with the rest of the country. When the new changes prove to be successful, there will be even more upgrades. No amount of crying foul can change the fact that what has proven to work has earned the right to be improved.

    Dan White
    Ohioans For Concealed Carry

And finally, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer comes a response to that newspaper's coverage of HB91, a CCW-only reform bill introduced some months ago that would seek to remove the media access loophole in its entirety.

    September 19, 2005
    Cleveland Plain Dealer

    I fail to see how having permit holders' names published is of any advantage. Most people don't even know their neighbors' names, and I can't imagine keeping all of the lists in one's pocket, just to ask every passer-by, "What's your name?"

    Anyhow, these aren't the people to be afraid of; they've been thoroughly vetted, and local law enforcement knows who they are. How about the guy who didn't apply for a permit and owns a gun? Do you know the legal and psychological history of everyone on your street? Permit holders have to have a life history of no crimes or mental hospitalizations.

    Finally, criminals won't apply for permits, and some permit holders (such as fleeing battered wives) have a good reason to keep their whereabouts and status unknown.

    Dave Leeds

Judging by their (unsuccessful) bid to gain access to public officials' private home addresses, we clearly could anticipate the elite media's continued opposition to removing any access whatsoever to information on who has Ohio concealed handgun licenses.

But once they realize the AP story on the subject got it wrong, it stretches the imagination to anticipate how they will be able to justify opposing a provision in Rep. Aslanides' soon-to-be-introduced legislation, which would mirror federal law regarding drivers' licenses by providing an opt-out provision for those who are concerned having their information made public would put them or a family member at risk.

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