Plain Dealer: Pro gun 'journalist' seeks lists of permits

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that "a gun-rights group critical of journalists who have published lists of conceal-and-carry permit holders is now seeking the same information."

From the story:

    Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans For Concealed Carry Inc., has asked the state's sheriffs for -- and in some cases has received -- the names and addresses of the permit holders, citing his role as a journalist. The group, which lobbies in Columbus, produces a newsletter and has a Web site.

    Under the law, only journalists -- not the general public -- can obtain the information but they cannot copy it. The requests highlight the increasingly murky definition of journalists in the age of the Internet.

    "You have to wonder why they are doing this," said Bob Cornwell, the executive director of Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association. "Is it for recruitment? Is it for notification -- that there are people like you living nearby? We just don't know."

    Bryan Torok, a director with Ohioans For Concealed Carry, said it wants to use the lists for statistical studies about who is seeking the permits. In a letter to sheriffs, the group stressed it would not use the information in a harmful way.

Torok told the Plain Dealer that some sheriff's departments have shared information. But the paper says that some in Northeast Ohio have not complied.

Again, from the story:

    Lorain County Sheriff's Capt. Richard Resendez said his office would not consider it, nor would Medina County Sheriff Neil Hassinger's staff.

    Neither considers Garvas a journalist. Cornwell advised sheriffs to deny the requests. Cuyahoga County prosecutors are reviewing a state law that defines journalists in order to help sheriffs.

    Ohio law says a journalist is a person who works for a newspaper, magazine, radio or television station "or a similar medium." Garvas says in the letter that his newsletter and Internet work make him a journalist

The Plain Dealer notes the clause giving access to journalists was inserted into the law by then-Gov. Bob Taft. Brian Hicks, Taft's former chief of staff, and Ohio Rep. James Aslanides, the Coshocton Republican who sponsored the concealed-carry law, told the newspaper there was no discussion about the definition of a journalist at the time the law was conceived and discussed.

"If I was a sheriff, I would want to see some bona fide credentials," Aslanides is quoted as saying. "If there is any doubt at all, the sheriff should say no."


  • OFCC Statement: "OFCC Raises Awareness of Media Access Loophole"
  • Plain Dealer: Prosecutors sue to clarify definition of journalist' in concealed-carry law
      Calling a state law unconstitutional, Clermont County prosecutors asked a judge Thursday to clarify the definition of a journalist.

      The prosecutors' suit stems from a request by Ohioans for Concealed Carry to obtain the names and addresses of conceal-and-carry permit holders. Under state law, only journalists, not the general public, can obtain the information but cannot copy it.

      ...The suit says that [the State of Ohio has] maintained a system of disclosure that "severely burdens and denies equal access and results in arbitrary and disparate treatment . . . based upon one's status as a journalist.' "

  • Plain Dealer: Cheers & Jeers
      CHEERS . . .

      to Jeff Garvas, head of Ohioans For Concealed Carry Inc., for going after Ohio's silly law that keeps information on concealed weapons permit holders off limits to all but journalists. Garvas' group puts out a newsletter and has a Web site, so, he figures, he can classify himself as a journalist. The more, the merrier. The information should be available to all Ohioans.

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