Editorial: New gun law has some kinks

June 12, 2004
Zanesville Times Recorder

The letter of the law often flies in the face of what seems reasonable.

Harold Newell Jr. of Zanesville found that out recently when he was denied a concealed-carry gun permit.

Newell is now 56 years old. But 38 years ago, as a teenager, he and four other youths stole five cases of beer from an unlocked cooler at a convenience store in Zanesville. He was charged with felony breaking and entering, and was fined and given probation.

Years later, his record was expunged. But he still couldn't get a concealed-carry license in Ohio. Under the new state law, sheriff's offices and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation can inspect expunged records and juvenile records and use the information to determine if an individual should be issued a concealed-carry license.

Concealed carry weapons licenses can be denied if a person has been convicted of a felony, assault, homicide-related charges, drug, assault on a peace officer or domestic violence crimes, according to the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office.

Newell is no stranger to firearms. He's a retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who served in Vietnam and Lebanon. He worked as a corrections officer for Belmont and Noble counties. He has received concealed-carry weapons licenses in Massachusetts and Louisiana.

"I have nothing to hide," he said. "I was a kid; I made a mistake. We confessed to it all, paid the fines and were given probation. But my constitutional rights have not been restored."

It seems reasonable he should be granted a permit. But because the law is new, there are still kinks being worked out. This appears to be one of them. We don't believe the intent of the concealed-carry law was to prevent people in Newell's situation from receiving a permit.

His next step is to seek remedy in common pleas court. More importantly, he hopes to work with state representatives and senators to modify the law regarding expunged records.

There was no doubt that a law as controversial as this one would have rough spots. We hope the Legislature will revisit the issues that arise and smooth them out.

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