Concealed Carry Advocates Seek Improvements in New Ohio Law

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - Ohio's new concealed carry law is flawed and should be fixed, says a group that fought to get the law passed.

Ohioan for Concealed Carry, a pro-Second Amendment group, wants the Ohio General Assembly to remove a "media access" provision in the law, which allows sheriffs to release the name, county and birthdate of concealed-carry license holders to journalists.

The problem is, the Shelby County sheriff recently released the home addresses of 85 people licensed to carry concealed pistols in Ohio- an alleged breach of the law. Not only did Sheriff Kevin O'Leary release the home addresses -- but a local newspaper, the Sidney Daily News, printed them.

The Shelby County prosecutor has appointed a special prosecutor to look into possible criminal violations by Sheriff O'Leary.

Meanwhile, at least 10 of the concealed-carry licensees have contacted Ohioans for Concealed Carry, seeking legal recourse related to the release of their "private, protected information."

Ohioans for Concealed Carry said it has referred the 10 licensees to Attorney Ken Hanson, who called the release of their home addresses an unfortunate situation: "Most commented that the disclosure will have an impact on their lives, including one person who previously had received death threats and now has his home address printed in the paper."

According to Ohioans for Concealed Carry, the special prosecutor will investigate allegations that Sheriff O'Leary "did release or otherwise disseminate records that are confidential" under Ohio law -- a fifth degree felony.

The investigation also will examine charges that Sheriff O'Leary committed dereliction of duty and violated the civil rights of the 85 license-holders whose private information was disseminated.

"This investigation will decide whether violators will be held accountable, or whether Sheriff O'Leary and the Sidney Daily News will be Exhibit A -- offered with legislation that will be introduced to repeal the media access loophole," said attorney Hanson.

"When Governor Taft insisted on inserting this loophole at the eleventh hour, it was justified in part by adding penalties for violating this same section," Hanson said. He added that his clients have asked the Shelby County prosecutor to enforce those penalties.

Ohioans For Concealed Carry says it opposed the media access loophole from the moment Governor Taft began demanding it last November. Even when sheriffs follow the law properly -- releasing only names, counties, and birthdates -- it puts them in an awkward position, the group said.

"Sheriffs say they are struggling to keep up with demand for licenses, and the frequent and unnecessary requests for access by the media just saddles them with more paperwork, said Ohioans for Concealed Carry.

"Although our organization considers what O'Leary did to be a serious crime, we feel it is one of numerous instances where Ohio's concealed carry law has made a felony out of something that simply doesn't warrant felony charges," said Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans For Concealed Carry.

"We support the sheriffs," Garvas said.

"We are calling upon the General Assembly to remove this useless loophole from the law before Election Day.

"It is not being used for the supposed reasons it was inserted, and it now threatens to ruin the career of a sheriff and newspaper editor over an alleged accidental felony."

See Earlier Story:
Release of Home Addresses Angers Concealed Carry Licensees (11 June 2004)