Privacy upheld for concealed weapons
By SCOTT JORGENSEN
IVN Staff Writer
Legislation is being advanced at the Oregon capitol in Salem to protect the privacy of concealed weapons permit holders.
On Monday, May 4, the Oregon House of Representatives passed House Bill 2727 on a 54-4 vote. If approved, the 12-page bill would exempt concealed handgun license information from disclosure under the state’s open records law.
The issue emerged from a 2007 case in which South Medford High School English teacher Shirley Katz asked Medford Public Schools District for permission to bring a concealed weapon to work.
Katz insisted that she needed to take her pistol to work because she feared that her ex-husband could show up and try to harm her. She said that she also was worried about a Columbine-style attack.
Her request was denied, but prompted the Mail Tribune newspaper to ask Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters for a list of concealed weapons permit holders in the county.
Winters refused, which led to a court battle. A judge ruled in the newspaper’s favor, and Winters began seeking a legislative remedy to the problem.
HB 2727 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 20. A public hearing was held on March 10, and a work session conducted April 15. On April 24, the committee approved an amended version of the bill with a do-pass recommendation, and sent it to the full House for a vote.
Winters testified in favor of HB 2727 when it was still in committee, and said that passing the bill is “the right thing to do.”
“I think it’s a win-win for everyone involved,” Winters said. “I think this solves everything and protects people’s safety, security and right to privacy.”
HB 2727 leaves the decision of whether or not to release the information up to the sheriff of the county where the request is made, Winters said. Section 2 of the bill states that “the party seeking disclosure shall have the burden of showing that public disclosure would not constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy.”
Winters said that those provisions establish “clear guidelines on what needed to happen.
“This takes the ambiguity out of it,” he said. “It’s an important issue, and we need to have a legislative fix to it.”
Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson expressed support for HB 2727 and the rights of concealed weapons permit holders during his Wednesday, May 6 appearance on the Grants Pass KAJO Radio talk show.
“If someone wants their information kept private, I’ll do anything I can to keep it private,” Gilbertson said.
Gilbertson stated that his office issued 117 concealed weapons permits during January and 136 in March.