Ohio Concealed Carry
Via Kevin Holtsberry, I see that concealed carry advocates have won an excellent victory in Ohio. The political machinations are interesting on their own: Governor Taft apparently opposed the bill until a provision was added making the permit records semi-public. And there's this:
In the legislature, the issue has not been partisan but rather a debate between urban lawmakers, whose districts have higher crime rates, and rural and suburban lawmakers who say their constituents need guns for protection.
That sounds right, and fits with Democratic support for gun control in more rural areas (Howard Dean, anyone?). It's interesting to read that the most influential opposition (now dropped) came from law enforcement. Most of my own contacts in law enforcement have been big proponents of concealed carry. In fact, when I went to get fingerprinted at my county sheriff's office (a requirement for concealed carry here in Virginia), the sheriff came out of his office, shook my hand, and thanked me for applying for a permit. Turns out that years earlier, as a delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates, he had sponsored the original concealed carry law.
Of course, some are opposed to the new law. It has even brought out some despicable threats on the part of Ohio's highest-circulated newspaper.
You see, the law makes information of who purchases permits available to journalists, but not to the general public. As a result, the Cleveland Plain Dealer (which opposes the bill) has published this threat:
Since Taft chooses to hide behind journalists on this vital public-records matter, it is this newspaper's intention to obtain this information and publish it. Our readers deserve to know the identities of those who obtain permits to carry their guns in public. We hope other news organizations will do the same in their communities.
This information is kept private in many states without difficulty. In many states, journalists do not even have access. Anyhow, I have three responses to their threat:
1) Go ahead, make my day. The only thing about concealed carry laws better than allowing law-abiding citizens to protect themselves is the deterrent factor it might create among criminals who now know their potential victim might be armed. I'd like to be on a published "don't mess with me" list.
2) The unfortunate side-effect of this would be that it might provide a list to criminals of who has guns in their home. Though this should have a deterrent effect based on fear of being shot, it might also provide incentive as a potential source of stolen firearms.
3) What really bothers me is that it seems likely to me that the Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn't really care at all about "public access." I mean, what is the real benefit of such access? Would anyone exercise it? Even if a "public right to know" seems abstractly attractive as a principle, it seems minor and largely irrelevant in this case. And considering the paper's longstanding opposition to concealed carry, I have trouble believing that this is anything more than a thinly veiled attempt to dissuade Ohio citizens from exercising their rights as provided by the 2nd Amendment and the new Ohio statute. I consider that a cheap political ploy, and an abuse of journalistic power.
Of course, the newspaper probably doesn't know who they are messing with. Scroll down a couple stories at this site to see a representative reaction from the online firearm community:
As soon as they publish permit holders' names, we'll publish the names, phone numbers and home addresses of every single person on staff at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
That's the first thing that would happen, and I have little doubt the reaction (via phone calls, emails, letters, etc.) would be tremendous. The second would be a quiet little bill next term which removed even journalist's access to the information.
Anyhow, this is a small complaint amidst a big and well-earned victory for Ohio citizens generally, and gun owners in particular.