New law to keep CHL information private

For years, Oregon sheriffs and multiple state legislators have pushed to keep the personal information of concealed handgun license holders protected from public disclosure.

Earlier this month, pending the signature of Governor John Kitzhaber, lawmakers finally made it happen.

“I think it’s great,” said Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley. “It’s a major step forward in protecting people’s privacy rights, and also their right to keep and bear arms.” Currently, about 148,000 Oregonians hold a concealed handgun license (CHL), including 1,700 Crook County residents.

According to Hensley, nearly all Crook County CHL applicants wished to keep their personal information private. In fact, the application gives people that option.

“Everybody would check that,” he said, “because they don’t want that information out there.”

Oregon Representative Mike McLane (R-Dist. 55) agrees the information should stay private.

“I am not convinced of the public’s need to know information about those who have concealed handgun licenses,” he said.

McLane went on to point out that CHL holders rarely if ever commit gun-related crimes. He would get no argument from Hensley.

“I do not recall any CHL holder ever being arrested for a crime involving the carrying of that weapon,” Hensley said.

Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett (R-Dist. 28) defended the legislation further by pointing out that the release of personal information could put CHL holders at risk.

“Obviously, if you have a concealed handgun license, you’re probably going to have that gun in your home, and people who want to steal that gun could go and find out which home to look in,” he said. “It would also allow those folks who oppose the use of firearms and the possession of firearms to target these people in any way they choose.”

Along with the impact to current CHL holders, McLane feels the potential release of information could give people who are considering such a license second thoughts.

House Bill 4045-B passed the Senate with a 24 to 5 vote while the House approved the legislation 54 to 6. Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Dist. 25) introduced the bill along with multiple co-sponsors including McLane, and Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Dist. 4), who chairs the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, helped draft amendments to the bill.

Although the legislation keeps the personal information of CHL holders private, it does include exceptions for which the information can be released. They include disclosure for criminal justice purposes or because of a court order, for compelling public interest, or for media members in response to a crime involving the use or possession of a firearm.

McLane does not consider the bill perfect. The exceptions kept lawmakers engaged in lengthy debates, he said, and it took a lot of work for them to reach a consensus. In the end, he was left with concerns regarding how the judicial system will interpret the agreed-upon exceptions.

Nevertheless, he feels that lawmakers met the end goal, and he supports the bill as written.

“Perfection is the enemy of the good,” McLane remarked, “and this is good legislation.”

Whitsett approved the bill as well, and believes that lawmakers got it right after multiple failed attempts in the past. He singled out the newest amendments as the difference maker.

“While I don’t think they’re perfect, they are 95 percent better than the status quo,” he said.

Link: New law to keep CHL information private

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