Senate committee hears testimony on media access loophole

Supporting your right to privacy

This morning, Wednesday November 15, Buckeye Firearms Association submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Civil Justice supporting the portion of HB9 that would allow a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holder to protect their personal information from the media.

While this bill is generally an “open records” bill, there was a floor amendment added to the bill before it passed the Ohio House (by 93-1 vote!) that would close media access to some CHL personal information.

The applicable part would add the following to Ohio law:

SEC 2923.129 (B)(2)(b) A sheriff who otherwise is required pursuant to division (B)(2)(a) of this section to disclose to a journalist the name, county of residence, and date of birth of persons to whom the sheriff has issued a valid license, replacement license, temporary emergency license, or replacement temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun shall not disclose that information to a journalist if the person with a valid license to carry a concealed handgun has either notified the sheriff, in writing, that the person does not want the person's name, county of residence, and date of birth disclosed to a journalist or has indicated on the person's application for a license or for renewal of a license that the person does not want the person's information disclosed to a journalist.

John Murphy testified for the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association (OPAA). They are an “interested party” and support some provisions in the bill, but are opposed to other aspects.

Senator Eric Fingerhut (D-25), the Senate’s most outspoken anti-gun member (who continues to insist that innocent citizens should not be permitted to appropriately defend their life from armed criminals), asked Mr. Murphy if the OPAA had a position on the section that would allow license holders to protect their private information. Mr. Murphy stated that they do not have a position on that issue.

Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence testified against HB9. She wants media to continue to print names and has urged employers to discriminate against people who have training and obtained a license from the state to carry a gun by not hiring them.

Governor Taft has stated numerous times that he will veto any bill that fixes the media harassment of gun owners, but has not commented on that recently. We do not know his current stance on this issue or how the Governor's position might affect the final version of this bill when there has been no credible testimony citing reasons why such a fix should not be made.

What follows is the testimony provided to the committee by Buckeye Firearms Association.

November 15, 2006

Good morning Chairman Goodman and Senators. This testimony is submitted on behalf of Buckeye Firearms Association, our supporters, and over 80,000 law-abiding Ohio citizens who have an Ohio Concealed Handgun License (CHL). While we take no position on the majority of this bill, we support SEC. 2923.129 (B)(2)(b) which limits media access to some personal information.

A deed, mortgage, tax records, and other personal information are available online, but you cannot find this information by doing a simple “Google” search. Because the media insists in putting CHL information in text instead of data files like the official county registrars do, it is “searchable” unlike other personal information. They have no liability for incorrect or damaging information.

News media makes available personal information on a prison guard with a CHL that is still easily searchable online, even while Governor Taft and the state of Ohio continue to move toward protecting ex-convict information. Shortly after HB12 became law, Governor Taft ordered prison officials to remove names, photos and descriptions of crimes committed by former inmates from the State’s website. Just recently Ohio's Correctional Institution Inspection Committee recommended further restricting access to inmate information and the Ohio Newspaper Association has been quoted as willing to accept a compromise on information released. It is unfortunate that so much attention is being given to privacy protection for convicted criminals while law-abiding CHL holders are not given the same courtesy, especially when there was testimony before the House Criminal Justice Committee from a prison guard who was contacted by an ex-prisoner because the media provided the guard’s information to the convict! The only reason we can prove cause and effect on this case is because the convict explained it to the guard instead of using it to kill him.

For all the names they have accessed, printed and posted online, the media has yet to do anything resembling any measurable public good with the information.

While the best solution would be removing all media access to personal information, and requiring the purging of all licensee databases, this bill will at least allow those victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and others who are at risk to sign affidavits that would protect their information. This is a crucial part of this bill and must remain intact.

Thank you for your consideration.

Buckeye Firearms Association
Jim Irvine, Chairman


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