GASTONIA A Gaston County commissioner wants to put personal information contained in gun permits – now part of the public record – out of public view.
At Thursday night’s board of commissioners’ work session, vice chairman Tracy Philbeck introduced a measure asking the county’s legislators to change the current law.
Sheriffs’ offices in North Carolina are required to maintain records of handgun purchases issued by their offices, and those records include information such as names, addresses and ages. The public has access to this information, and Philbeck wants that stopped.
“In light of recent events, the media has taken advantage of the public records law and abused it,” he said, referring to news reports that followed incidents such as last month’s shooting at a Connecticut school. “This information should not be used to criminalize or defame gun owners.”
As an example of abuse he mentioned Raleigh-based WRAL-TV’s story last summer about concealed-carry permit holders. He said the story included an online database of public information that allowed people to search street names in the station’s 22-county viewing area for permit holders.
Philbeck believes that people who go through the application process and legally obtain a gun “should expect some form of privacy.”
He wants county commissioners to support legislation that would exempt handgun purchase permits and concealed-carry permits from sheriffs’ office lists accessible by the public at large.
Philbeck said Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger “is in full support of this action.”
“We both agree the information should be available to law enforcement,” Philbeck said. “But it shouldn’t be made public.”
Cloninger commented that “it’s a public safety issue to me.”
Making personal information available to anybody “puts people in danger,” he said. Cloninger told the Gaston commissioners Thursday that he would be encouraging the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association to endorse the resolution.
The Gaston board could vote on the measure at its Jan. 24 meeting. Philbeck said it would then be forwarded to other counties in the state, the N.C. House and Senate and the governor’s office. WCNC-TV contributed.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less