Anyone with a Web site or a newsletter may one day gain access to an Ohio list of permits to carry concealed weapons that has been hidden from the public for years, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If that happens, it could change the way Ohio labels journalists and how people who report and gather the news do their jobs. A request by a gun-rights group to see the list has sparked debate about the hazy definition of a journalist. Under state law, only journalists may view the permits. Jeff Garvas of Ohioans for Concealed Carry said his Web site and newsletter gave him proper credentials to see the list; he asked county sheriffs for the lists to do a statistical analysis on the 60,000 permit holders.
If a county sheriff gives the list to a nonjournalist, the sheriff could be charged with a fifth-degree felony. Clermont County prosecutors sued last week, saying the state law that defines journalists is unconstitutionally vague. “This is the question of the future,” said Aly Colon of the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg , Fl., an advanced training program for journalists. “This will continue to become more blurry as there are more ways of getting information out.”