Skip to comments.Oregon House votes to make gun records private; bill moves to Oregon Senate
Posted on 03/21/2011 3:41:59 PM PDT by marktwain
Concealed handgun license holders would become anonymous under a bill approved by the Oregon House on Thursday.
House Bill 2787 prohibits public bodies from releasing information that identifies who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun. The proposal cleared the House by a wide margin, 42 to 18.
Oregon's public records law allows for public inspection of handgun license applications, which ask for character references, previous crimes and drug use. The application authorizes the sheriff's office to run a background check. Currently, applicants can claim personal safety reasons to keep information private.
Privacy advocates say gun ownership is no one else's business.
"It's just common decency not to put the information out there," said Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, who is president of the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association. The group sponsored the bill.
Rep. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, carried the bill on the floor. The proposal had bipartisan support, including Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, a retired police officer. The 18 nays included 17 Democrats and 1 Republican. The House is split 30-30.
Last year, the Oregon Court of Appeals ordered the Jackson County sheriff's office to disclose the names of license holders and applicants over a two-year period. The Medford Mail Tribune did not plan to publish the names, but had wanted to see how many teachers were on the list.
"I've said it many times, but I'll say it again: If the sheriff or anybody else wants to make concealed weapons permits exempt from public records laws, they should go to the Legislature and ask them to do it," said Mail Tribune Editor Bob Hunter in a 2010 story.
This bill is the legislative fix.
Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, voted against the bill, saying later that he thought it too restrictive. The proposal allows disclosure only by court order, license holder consent, or for criminal justice purposes.
"Handguns are what people use to kill people. I want to make sure citizens have a right to know if there is a threat," Greenlick said.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where a similar proposal is pending in a committee.