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Ohio Dems tried to illegally obtain CCW permit holders’ info to launch anti-gun campaign Updated

By Michelle Malkin  •  June 30, 2010 03:10 PM

Liberals in Ohio have quite a track snooping on private citizens. Democrat state officials abused their access and plundered through Joe the Plumber’s records. And now, the Ohio Democrat Party has been caught trying to illegally obtain info on concealed carry permit holders in the Buckeye State in order to bombard them with anti-gun propaganda.

Fortunately, one responsible Democrat blew the whistle and put the brakes on the privacy invasion – via Cleveland Plain Dealer, hat tip: reader Tyler:

The Ohio Democratic Party tried unsuccessfully this week to get information on all people licensed to carry concealed weapons in the Buckeye State.

The state party sent letters to Ohio’s 88 sheriffs requesting the names and addresses of permit holders and the dates the licenses were issued. Ohio has about 211,000 permit holders.

But neither the Democrats nor any other political party can get that information. The records are exempt from the public record laws. The only public access was given to journalists when then-Gov. Bob Taft signed the law in 2004.

Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti, a Democrat, denied the request Friday.

“I must also advise you that the information you are requesting is NOT a public record and CANNOT be released,” Stammitti wrote in a letter to the party.

The Democrats intended to target people who support the Second Amendment — the constitutional right to bear arms — with campaign information, said party spokesman, Seth Bringman.

Update: An Ohio reader with a CCW permit, Michael Cullison, weighs in with a different take on the story than other readers have given me. Would appreciate any other feedback from Ohio CCW permit-holders:

I am an Ohio CCW permit holder and have been since the original law went into effect in 2004. I am also a conservative Republican, so I have no love for the Democraps. But I used to be a pretty fair journalist and I can’t stand to see shoddy, inaccurate reporting, even if it’s on a blog.

Ohio’s General Assembly passed the first concealed carry law in late 2003. That law took effect in April 2004. There was a provision in the law that allowed journalists to access the names and addresses of all CHLs in each county simply by making a records request to the sheriff in each county. Ohio has 88 counties and 88 sheriffs and they are the ones who issue the CHLs and retain the records.

Several newspapers in the state, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer, severely abused the access to this information and regularly printed the names and addresses of CHL holders. The PD made it a regular item each month, publishing all the new CHLs issued in the previous 30 days.

CHL holders were justifiably outraged at this behavior on the part of at least a half dozen or more newspapers and many of our legislators also thought it was an abusive practice. Therefore, when they wrote a CCW modification bill to clean up some of the parts of the original statute, they modified the public access section of the law and took away the right of journalists to request lists of CHL holders. Now a journalist must physically visit a sheriff’s office to see the records and they are not allowed to copy said records or even take a notebook or recording device along when they do the viewing. That law was signed by Ted Strickland in June 2008 and took effect in September 2008.

It’s hardly surprising that the people in the Ohio Democrap Party would not know any details of how Ohio’s CCW law works. They made what they thought was a legitimate request to all 88 sheriffs for what they assumed was a public record. Since the law was changed in 2008, the sheriffs denied the request. If this had been some covert fishing expedition they would hardly have sent the letter to all 88 sheriffs since at least half of them are Republicans who would have reported any hanky panky. As it was, it was my sheriff, Democrat Phil Stammitti, who notified the media.

Mr. Cullison does not believe Dems were trolling for names to send CCW permit-holders anti-gun literature, as several other readers believe. His take:

On the contrary, the Democraps want to troll for votes among CHL holders because the NRA has endorsed Ted Strickland in the governor’s race. They’re trying to play right to the gun community in that race and hoping to make those same voters forget that their Senate candidate, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, is a rabid anti-gun zealot. They also hope to keep control of the Ohio House by any means they can find, since they want to control the Ohio Apportionment Board that will draw the new congressional and legislative districts once the census data is released to the states.

John Kasich, the GOP candidate for governor, has an uphill battle to win the gun rights vote this year because the voted for Clinton’s Assault Weapons Ban and many will never forgive him for that vote. The Democraps are trying to use the gun issue to their advantage since their candidate for governor already has the NRA endorsement and their candidate for attorney general, Richard Cordray, will surely get the NRA’s backing. They’re using the Rahm Emanuel playbook from 2006 to try to make their candidates look okay on gun issues. So far they appear to be succeeding.

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