North Carolina law says any government record must be made available to anyone who asks for it, unless its listed as an exception by statute.
Theres no such exception for personal information collected by sheriffs offices during the handgun permit process or for the State Bureau of Investigations list of concealed carry permit holders.
But Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger and Eddie Caldwell, legal counsel for the N.C. Sheriffs Association, argue the law is open to interpretation. The records could be information used in criminal investigations or to prevent crimes from occurring, they say.
Criminal investigation records compiled by public law enforcement agencies for the purpose of attempting to prevent or solve violations of the law are not public record, according to a state statute.
Neither are records of criminal intelligence information compiled in an effort to anticipate, prevent, or monitor possible violations of the law, the statute reads.
But a professor who specializes in public records law at the University of North Carolinas School of Government said that sheriffs offices and the SBI compile permit information as part of their statutory duties not as part of their investigative activities.
Any sheriff refusing to release gun permit records would lose a lawsuit, professor Frayda Bluestein said. I think the law is pretty clear.
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