When Ohio legislators enacted a law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons, but allowed only the media to find out the names of those obtaining such permits, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland decided to let the public know which of their neighbors were on the list, reports Editor & Publisher. Starting Wednesday, the paper began publishing the names, ages, and home counties of the 3,000 residents who have taken out such permits, citing the public’s right to know. “We don’t think the public should be denied access to the names at all,” said Plain Dealer Editor Doug Clifton, who published about 1,500 names over a full page Wednesday and planned to run a page and a half of the remaining names on Thursday. “We figured it was our obligation to share it with the broader public.”
That did not sit well with a local gun rights group. Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OFCC) posted Clifton’s home address, phone number, and even a map to his house on its Web site. The group claimed that if readers have a right to know who has concealed weapons, they have a right to know Clifton’s personal information. “The Plain Dealer was one of the first to publish its intention to abuse the media access privilege, granted after Gov. [Bob] Taft insisted that reporters could act as a check and a balance to insure that licenses were being issued appropriately,” the OFCC Web site states. “The editor believes in open records. Thus he should certainly have no problem with OFCC publishing his home address and telephone number.” Clifton, who has a published phone number, did not expect to alter the paper’s plans for publication of the names, which will include a monthly update on any new concealed weapons permit registrants. “I’m going to play it out and see what happens,” he said. “I hope no one gets it in their head to come knocking on my door.” The Plain Dealer is the fifth Ohio daily to run the names of permit holders since they began to be issued, but the only one to put them online.