Concealed hand and gun licenses, privacy and the fourth estate

Carla Axtman

Update 3:30PM: I was wrong about the media part. There appears to be an exception in the bill that allows "bona fide" media to get information about a CHL if the holder of the license has been "convicted of a crime involving the use or possession of a firearm". It's still a solution in search of a problem and a solid waste of the legislature's time. But the media does appear to have access.

Yesterday, the Oregon Senate passed HB 4045B, a bill that shields concealed hand gun licenses from public records requests. The bill was the brain child and baby of Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer, Newberg, St Paul). The bill sailed through the Senate 24-5 after having already passed the Oregon House. Thus its on the way to the Governor.

Oregonians are big on privacy protections, no doubt about it. But Ceasefire Oregon may have discovered that this bill is a solution in search of a problem. In other words, this was probably an unnecessary time and financial synch for the legislature, who had plenty of other stuff to do with..y'know...actual real problems.

Ceasfire Oregon: New Trajectory blog:

A Message from Ceasefire Oregon regarding HB 4045B:Halt Concealed Handgun License Privacy Invasions

To: Oregon Senate Republicans and the Oregon Gun Lobby Copy to: Oregon Senate Democrats

We don’t usually see eye-to-eye with you on issues related to firearms. But when it comes to extending reasonable privacy to Oregon holders of concealed handgun licenses (CHLs), we’re willing to meet you halfway. We’ll show you how to reduce the requests for CHL data by over 50%.

Just Do Nothing.

Why? Because over 50% of the requests for CHL data received by Oregon sheriffs in the last five years came from the Oregon Republican Party, the Oregon Senate Republicans, and gun advocacy organizations, including Oregon Gun Owners, the Oregon Firearms Federation, and the Oregon State Rifle Association. If you don’t think those records should be made available under the Oregon Public Records Law, just stop requesting them.

Ceasefire Oregon submitted requests to sheriffs in all 36 counties to learn about requests they had received for concealed handgun license records in the last five years. They were looking for records accessed for criminal, harassment, or other improper purposes. No evidence was found for any request for CHL records for malicious purposes.

The breakdown: 41% (18 requests) came from gun advocacy organizations 36% (16 requests) came from newspapers 11% (5 requests) came from Republican politicians (the Oregon Republican Party and the Oregon Senate Republican Office)

There were a few individuals that requested information, too. They included a stalking victim, a family member, an ex-spouse, and an employer. Under this new law, these victims and potential victims will now no longer have access to CHL records.

Katie Pool, a volunteer for Ceasefire Oregon, did the research. Pool said that the brouhaha in Oregon started when the Medford Mail Tribune wrote about a teacher who was bringing her concealed handgun to school. Litigation followed.

Pool also noted that there have been several significant newspaper investigations into guns, involving concealed handgun licenses, in the hands of people who aren't supposed to have them. The most recent was Mike Luo's piece in the New York Times last December. Earlier pieces were done by the Sun Sentinal in Florida and one was by the LA Times.

So is this really about protecting privacy? Or keeping journalists from being able to access records to determine whether permits are being properly issued?

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    Allowance is made for situations where the information NEEDS to be disclosed...otherwise its no one business that a law abiding citizen is expressing his/her rights.

    Background check is very thorough and above and beyond the background check required to purchase a gun. No need to check for "records accessed for criminal, harassment, or other improper purposes." It's redundant.

    Get over it.

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      I can get information on car licenses and registrations in this state. There's no inalienable right to privacy there-- I'm not seeing why there is with CHLs.

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    Wow! How hypocritical. The gun lobby and republicans, who are pushing the privacy bill, are actually responsible for over 50% of the requests!

    We need to keep open access to those who need this information.

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      Those who truly NEED the information can get it. Journalist don't need it. The gun lobby = the people of Oregon...we fund it and we want it.

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        Journalists DO need it. It's an accountability measure that provides oversight to ensure that permits are being issued properly.

        There's plenty of evidence that this is necessary.

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        I'm sorrry, but the gun lobby ≠ the people of Oregon.

        I am an Oregon native, and I've been an Oregon resident for all but 3 of my years on this planet, and the gun lobby is most certainly not me.

        The gun lobby is not accountable to "the people of Oregon" in the same way that the government is. I have no voice in the gun lobby unless I decide to join.

        To say that "the gun lobby = the people of Oregon" is a patently ridiculous statement.

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    If our goal is to make the world safer, then we should keep the Concealed Handgun License data private. Seems to me that being able to print lists of who has a CHL provides a roadmap for gun-seeking troublemakers to be able to break in and steal firearms.

    If someone wants to know whether his or her stalker has a weapon, then checking CHL records won't confirm whether or not the stalker has a firearm. It will only reveal whether he or she has gone through the steps to get a CHL.

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    "Under this new law, these victims and potential victims will now no longer have access to CHL records."

    A very lame attempt to frame CHL holders as a threat to society. Are you that unfamiliar with Oregon's concealed carry standards or just being disingenuous? I suspect the latter is true.

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      Some CHL owners may be a threat to society. There have been a number of media stories that have shown that some CHLs have been inappropriately issued.

      Hence demonstrating my point for the need for media to have access to these records.

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    It’s the County Sheriffs that wanted this law. I called the Washington County Sherriff when the Oregonian made its most recent request and asked the rationale for refusing. The concern was a published list of potential sites for finding handguns. This may or may not be valid, but the Sheriff is probably a better source of opinion that some others.

    It is possible the Sheriffs are all covering up a conspiracy of corruption and incompetency, and I would support any review or oversight of the process. I am skeptical that the Oregonian’s motivation is to uncover scandal. The motivation is a mystery since the Oregonian will not return calls. However, the Oregonian requests are timed with ghastly crimes elsewhere.

    The link between the total failure of mental health services in Arizona to internal procedures in the Washington County Sheriff’s office is very tenuous. But, the Oregonian asked. Given the required background check for concealed carry, I suspect hunting licenses or the Federal gun registration database would be a better place for the Oregonian to find great quotes from gun owners. You only have to look to Monmouth to see a fruitful place for scandal. And, I suspect the Federal gun registration is secret.

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    i was pretty certain it was part of the GOP's Job Creation Plan

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    I called the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if I could get access to the vehicle and driver license databases. While the driver records are public, certain information is redacted from any inquiry and one has to pay for each record. It appears that OAR 735-010-0008 and ORS 802.177 are used to restrict available information. However, certain organizations can apply for an “account” and they can get additional information. Bill collection agencies are examples of organizations with access. Of course, why did I not think of that!

    I’m actually surprised that the privileged account holder idea was not used in this issue.

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    And, it does not surprise me that the Republican Party and the NRA want this list. It would be fruitful territory for voters and donors. They thank you for all your efforts.

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