After 70 peaceful years, Ft. Wayne media declares war on CHL-holders

Mar. 15, 2004
By Mike Dooley

Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel

Nearly 14,000 Allen County residents had permits for handguns as of last year.

You might be surprised at who's licensed to pack heat in Allen County.

Late last year, at least 13,972 county residents -- including four times as many men as women -- had permits to carry handguns. While fairly consistent with previous years, the number of permits can fluctuate daily as new ones are issued, existing ones expire and some are recalled.

Across the state, there were about 311,000 permit holders in 2003, according to the Indiana State Police. That's about 51 permits for every 1,000 Hoosiers, compared with Allen County's rate of about 41 for every 1,000 residents.

Among those you might recognize on the public list of permit holders are:

  • The Rev. Ternae Jordan Sr., pastor of Greater Progressive Baptist Church and founder of Stop the Violence, an organization devoted to reducing youth violence.
  • Tracy Warner, editor of The Journal-Gazette's editorial page, which has traditionally supported calls for tighter controls on guns and opposed making it easier to carry the weapons.

    OFCC note: One positive thing about public records for CHLs: you know who the hypocrites are. After reading Warner's March 14 editorial in the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette, entitled "Up In Arms", there are simply no words for this Brady Bunch-quoting hypocrite, who must think that only the "enlightened" deserve the right to bear arms for self-defense. After being "outed" by his competitor, Warner wrote this explanation for why he has a CHL, but why he still supports measures to take guns away from his readers.

    Ministers, millionaires and newspaper editors are not the only ones who have the permits, however. That's why The News-Sentinel decided to scour the Indiana database of license holders. The database doesn't list occupations, but among the local names recognizable are those of teachers, lawyers, school bus drivers, politicians, real estate developers, builders, nightclub owners, bartenders, tailors, attorneys and a radio talk-show host.

    Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

    While those on the list of permit holders would be screened for weapons if they visited the Allen County Courthouse, judges and court officers don't need permits to carry a weapon. Retired police officers can get a lifetime permit to carry a handgun.

    The database does identify license holders by name, address, height, weight, date of birth and color of eyes and hair. Using that information, a computerized analysis of the list produced a description of the average permit holder.

    The average Allen County resident with a gun permit -- who may not actually carry a gun -- is a middle-aged white male between 41 and 50. He's short -- 5 feet to 5 feet, 6 inches -- and overweight -- 190 pounds to 200 pounds. He has brown hair and eyes, and lives in the 46809 ZIP code on the city's southwest corner. When he votes in primary elections, he casts a Republican ballot.

    You have to be at least 18 to get an Indiana gun permit, but you have to be 21 to buy the pistol it allows you to carry. The database shows 51 of the nearly 14,000 license holders are under 20. No effort is under way to change the age requirements.

    Ohio joins Indiana next month as one of 46 states that allow citizens to carry handguns; Illinois is one of four states where carrying a concealed handgun is not permitted.

    Reasons why

    So why do people get permits? They need one to legally carry a handgun while away from home or business. No permit is required for rifles or shotguns.

    Jordan didn't return phone calls seeking comment. Warner said he obtained his about four years ago after he began receiving death threats, including one that had "a disturbing reference to my family and a description and the location of my house. I wanted to have an option."

    Warner wrote in an article in Sunday's Journal Gazette that having a gun permit is gun control because applicants are screened and fingerprinted.

    State Rep. Robert Alderman, R-Fort Wayne, said, "I was a deputy sheriff for 20 years, and a lot of that time I worked warrants and fugitives. I sent a lot of people to jail, and some of those people tend to remember you. I've been threatened by some of them, and one might decide to make good on his threats some day. It's just a matter of protection."

    Dave Macy, host of a morning talk show on WGL, 1250-AM, said he got his first permit when he worked early mornings at a radio station in Nashville, Tenn. The station, he said, was in a "pretty seedy area of town," one where "it was dangerous to walk from your car to the front door at 2:30 in the morning."

    Macy said he's had two or three instances "where I let my gun do the talking," including one a few months after he received his first permit.

    As he arrived at work, two men jumped from behind a trash container and confronted him. "I showed my gun, and that was it," he recalled.

    Allen County Commissioner Marla Irving, who was single at the time, said she bought a gun after she found a window peeper outside her home in the late 1970s. After she married, her husband Jerry told her she should get a permit to carry the weapon.

    Irving said her husband and son are avid hunters and skeet shooters and said all the guns in their home are kept in a locked, walk-in vault.

    A 44-year-old saleswoman who has a .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver with her wherever she goes has never used her gun, either. But she might not be able to say that if she'd owned one on a July night 24 years ago.

    "I was raped," the woman said. "Jumped from behind, forced back into my car and raped. I didn't have a gun then, but I do now. That will never happen to me again." Her name is not being used because she is the victim of a sex crime.

    Lutheran Social Services Executive Director Stan Veit spent 17 years in positions with the Indiana Department of Corrections that required him to carry a gun. "It just carried over from that," Veit said. "I had more use for one back in the days I was dealing with all the bad guys in town."

    Efforts to reach other notable gun permit holders (see list on Page 3A) were unsuccessful.

    Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York and Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards said people who have permits and carry their weapons legally aren't usually a major concern for law enforcement.

    "You're entitled (to carry a gun) if you meet the criteria," Richards said. "I'm a lot less concerned about the permit holders than I am about the people who carry a gun without one. The people with the permits are the ones following the law."

    Variations from the average gun permit holder

    * There's one man in Allen County with a permit who stands less than 5 feet and weighs less than 100 pounds. Forty-four women are shorter than 4 feet, 6 inches, and 20 women weigh less than 100 pounds.

    * The tallest men are between 6 feet and 6 feet, 6 inches, and the tallest women -- eight of them -- are taller than 6 feet. Among the men, eight weigh more than 400 pounds, while the heaviest women -- six in all -- weigh more than 300 pounds.

    * Fifty-one permit holders are younger than 20 years old. Five of them are older than 90.

    Notable gun permit holders from last year

    (The paper goes on to list names of many Indiana's law-abiding CHL-holders by name, and occupation. OFCC will respect their privacy - what's left of it - by not publishing them here.)

    The Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel is considering destroying the privacy of every single CHL-holder in Allen County, IN, by creating a searchable database on it's website. They are asking for citizen feedback. Click here for the full story.

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