PDA

View Full Version : S.B. County withholds weapons permit records


Wild Bill
05-05-2006, 5:43 PM
I thought that this might be of interest to some. We need more County Sheriff's like San Bernardino County Sheriff Gary Penrod . :D

S.B. County withholds weapons permit records
By Edward Barrera, Staff Writer Daily Bulletin



California voters in 2004 approved increasing access to public records, but San Bernardino County Sheriff Gary Penrod appears headed in the opposite direction, based on a public records request made by the Daily Bulletin.
Responding to the newspaper's request to review concealed weapon permit applications by the 2,180 county residents holding active permits, Deputy County Counsel Dennis Tilton imposed lengthy restrictions on what information the county would release, citing concerns that information on the application -- such as birth date -- could be used for identity theft. Other requests made at the same time had mixed results.

Court precedent and state law allows the public access to almost all of the information contained in a concealed permit application with narrow exemptions.

The state Legislature exempted from disclosure where and when an applicant is vulnerable to attack and an applicant's medical and psychological history. It also exempted home addresses and telephone numbers of peace officers, judges, court commissioners and magistrates.

All other information, including birth date, address and reasons for carrying a weapon, are public. Even in the application itself, applicants are informed that all the information may be publicly disclosed.

"I'm not denying you are entitled to some information, but I don't think we are being too restrictive,'' Tilton said Thursday. "I realize this is new ground, but that is the position the sheriff wants to take.''

A sheriff's spokeswoman responded to a request for comment by Penrod by referring the newspaper to Tilton.

Redacting sensitive information to protect the privacy and general vulnerabilities of permit holders would take months, said Tilton, who did offer to hand over names, city of residence and year of birth within two weeks. He also said if someone had specific information about a permit holder, he could confirm some of it.

The deputy county counsel said a 1986 California Supreme Court decision that ruled permit applications are public documents with limited exemptions was outdated. He said he believed any new challenge would back the county's position.

But public record experts blasted the response.

"This is a brazen disregard of the law, and if the citizens of San Bernardino County treated the law like county counsel, there would be anarchy,'' said Jim Ewert, legal counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. "The public needs to know how the system works. Are permits going to people who give campaign contributions to the sheriff or to friends of (the board of) supervisors?''

Ewert said it's impossible to determine the effectiveness for issuing permits without relevant information such as birth dates and the reasons for carrying a concealed weapon.

A county or city police chief may issue a permit where "good cause'' exists. Tilton said the sheriff's department conducts thorough background checks for all holders, and currently 2,180 permits are active. He also said all who obtained permits "received them for personal protection.''

Terry Francke, the general counsel for Californians Aware, an advocacy group, ripped the county's written response to the public records request. He warned that accurate and specific information is essential for the media, and the absence of it could eventually hurt news gathering.

"If identity theft is the catchall reason to keep information from the public, and it seems to work, more government officials will move toward the ‘so sue me' spectrum,'' Francke said.

The county is also flouting Proposition 59, said Richard McKee, president of Californians Aware.

Approved in 2004, the proposition tacked on an amendment to the state constitution that declares government officials must broadly construe the people's right of access and narrowly construe limits to those rights.

"This is clearly a public record, but like other records, public officials treat them like they're private,'' McKee said.

It's one reason why the advocacy group is pushing a bill, AB 2927, by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, McKee said.

One section would provide for penalties, including monetary awards, if a court finds an agency's unlawful failure to provide access to records was due to bad faith. The fine would have to be paid by agency officers or employees who denied the request.

The bill is currently in the Assembly.

Other public records requests turned aside by county counsel included those for:

• the top 10 overtime earners in the sheriff's department in 2005 because no overtime documents exist

• and travel and credit expenses for Penrod from March because the sheriff's expenses had not been handed in yet.

The department complied with a request for the top 10 earners, with rank and pay scale only.

bg
05-05-2006, 7:06 PM
Sheriff Penrod is right in denying the news paper any
info regarding CCW holders info..What's the sense of
a CCW if everyone knows you have one. What's more,
giving out the info which might include home address
and phone number would give criminals a heads up to
where firearms might be stored ? What's a better way
to find out if someone owns a firearm and where they
live by having some two bit loudmouth newspaper
blab it all over the place..Penrod and Tilton on spot
on stopping this bulls*it !

I live in the IE and am glad we have a sheriff who tells
noisy newspapers where to go when it comes to the
privacy of law abiding CCW holding citizens..

DParker
05-05-2006, 9:07 PM
Let's not be shortsighted here. As a CCW holder, I don't relish the idea that my info is public record....BUT....I agreed to that fact when I applied.

Our long term interest is served by open access to CCW records because that may be the only realistic way to force the Sheriffs that refuse to issue to "everyday" folks to treat everybody fairly. As it is now, in many of the high population counties only the connected, priviledged, and celebrities get permits. That is just wrong...our lives are worth every bit as much as theirs.

Proving unequal treatment is what will force more issuance...and that can't be done without us having access to the records, including names and "good cause" statements.

linuxgunner
05-05-2006, 10:10 PM
As long as issuance is discretionary, records need to be public so we can investigate misbehaving sheriffs and police chiefs.

The solution? Make CA shall-issue and make the records private.

Until then, these need to be public records, as unattractive as that is for CCW holders.

http://californiaccw.org

glen avon
05-06-2006, 10:09 AM
any single thing any person does to make a newspaper whine gets my support. self-righteous, dishonest a-holes, all of them.

xenophobe
05-06-2006, 2:17 PM
any single thing any person does to make a newspaper whine gets my support. self-righteous, dishonest a-holes, all of them.

I would agree, and I'd also add, that any request for personal information is made public and published as well, with the same information they're requesting, Name, Address, Birthdate, etc...

sierratangofoxtrotunion
05-06-2006, 8:22 PM
As long as issuance is discretionary, records need to be public so we can investigate misbehaving sheriffs and police chiefs.

The solution? Make CA shall-issue and make the records private.

Until then, these need to be public records, as unattractive as that is for CCW holders.

http://californiaccw.org

I agree 100% with the above poster. It may not be such a problem in SB county, and the sheriff may be almost shall-issue. Not so in other counties, where there may be lawsuits brewing or pending against sheriffs for only handing out permits to those who give substantial amounts to the sheriff's reelection campaign, or never to blacks and hispanics, etc. I live in a county where there do appear to be some issues like these when issuing the permits. I've seen records where the permit app describes the "good cause" as things like "I have a lot of money." Not even "I have to carry large amounts of cash with me at night for my business," those may not go through in the same county. These records are needed to make crooked cheifs and sheriffs sweat.

linuxgunner
05-07-2006, 1:16 AM
I agree 100% with the above poster. It may not be such a problem in SB county, and the sheriff may be almost shall-issue. Not so in other counties, where there may be lawsuits brewing or pending against sheriffs for only handing out permits to those who give substantial amounts to the sheriff's reelection campaign, or never to blacks and hispanics, etc. I live in a county where there do appear to be some issues like these when issuing the permits. I've seen records where the permit app describes the "good cause" as things like "I have a lot of money." Not even "I have to carry large amounts of cash with me at night for my business," those may not go through in the same county. These records are needed to make crooked cheifs and sheriffs sweat.

That's exactly the kind of abuse that needs to be uncovered. We especially need to be sure that minorities have fair access to the system. In practice, the only way minorities will have fair access is in a shall-issue system; all other permit systems (building, drivers licenses, etc) work this way.

One cruel joke of the CCW public records system is that your full application is public EVEN IF YOU ARE DENIED! So in other words, if your application says, "I need a permit because such-and-such group has made serious threats to me", and they deny it, then the fact you applied is public, and your home address is public. "Hey I told the sheriff that you thugs are after me, and oh by the way I own a gun, and here's where I live, and I'm not armed when I leave my house! So um, stay away from me except when I'm at home I guess!" That is a bummer, but that's the way it has to be.

I strongly believe that home addresses must be public in this application. If home addresses are not public, we have a harder time uncovering "redlining" of minority neighborhoods. It sucks, but it must be this way.

One change they should make to the CCW permit process is the application should ask for the applicant's race.

I believe that the photos are part of the application and so they are part of the public record, so I guess we can determine race that way, if we request photos.

I'm about to do some happy fun PRA requests to my happy fun local police chief pretty soon.

Yet another reason for CA to go shall-issue. Please join us at http://californiaccw.org to make that happen, one application, one city, one sheriff at a time.

NeoWeird
05-07-2006, 3:44 AM
I guess we should just give out our social security numbers while we are at it, so we can all go check and make sure only legal citizens are applying. :rolleyes:

Several of you missed that the information on APPLICATIONS are public, not just the information of the CCW holders. So if the sheriff gives out 3 CCW permits per year, but 1,000 people apply each month, then those 12,000 applicatations are public knowledge. While I agree we need to monitor who is issued a CCW to prevent corruption, we also need to maintian our rights. I personally have a right to privacy, and that needs to be upheld at all costs, just like our other rights. If a newspaper wants statistics for a story, then give them statistics. If they want my name to see how often I apply, for how long I have held one, etc then they can have my name. What need does a newspaper have for my birthdate? What reasons does a newspaper have for my phone number? address? Mother's maiden name? A newspaper at BEST reports generalized last minute BS and they use statistics to try and reenforce that.

Keep in mind it doesn't take much to work at a newspaper, and I am sure in a couple weeks of work someone who just started working at the newspaper would have enough information to steal enough identities to live off for years. We should be more concerned with why a newspaper NEEDS every detail about us than why a sheriff doesn't want to give it up. The story even said that in two weeks the sheriff's department will be releasing a list of information that they feel is not excessive, so why is the newspaper so adamanet about getting more?

I agree with Penrod on this, and I bet most people would. Would you agree to letting someone put a huge neon sign on your house saying "Gun Owner"? So why would you let a newspaper print all your private information with the same information?

bg
05-07-2006, 6:49 PM
I agree with Penrod on this, and I bet most people would. Would you agree to letting someone put a huge neon sign on your house saying "Gun Owner"? So why would you let a newspaper print all your private information with the same information?
Exactly my point as well.

linuxgunner
05-07-2006, 7:37 PM
I agree with Penrod on this, and I bet most people would. Would you agree to letting someone put a huge neon sign on your house saying "Gun Owner"? So why would you let a newspaper print all your private information with the same information?

I see your point, and you are correct that applications (including denied applications) are public records.

I stand by my statement. The home address and cause statements must be public. How else are we going to uncover practices such as redlining, or issuing to friends only?

The solution is shall-issue, but taking our current system and making the records private would be a grave mistake.

Jim March has done tremendous work on CCW reform, and in fact he has a nuclear-strength lawsuit going on now, and this is only possible because CCW records are public.

The fact that the records are public is our best leverage. The reform is to make the process shall-issue and then make the records private.

sierratangofoxtrotunion
05-07-2006, 10:37 PM
I see your point, and you are correct that applications (including denied applications) are public records.

I stand by my statement. The home address and cause statements must be public. How else are we going to uncover practices such as redlining, or issuing to friends only?

The solution is shall-issue, but taking our current system and making the records private would be a grave mistake.

Jim March has done tremendous work on CCW reform, and in fact he has a nuclear-strength lawsuit going on now, and this is only possible because CCW records are public.

The fact that the records are public is our best leverage. The reform is to make the process shall-issue and then make the records private.
I agree, I don't love it that all these records are public, but the fact that they are is one of the best tools to uncover these kinds of problems. The only way to make sure it's truly fair is shall-issue, in which case there would be no need for these records to be public, and they can then get locked away.

linuxgunner
05-07-2006, 11:41 PM
Our whole website: http://californiaccw.org would be almost impossible and useless if these records weren't public. The single best tool we have to "force the issue" as it were is to expose misconduct, at the city and county level, and our one and only tool for doing that is the Public Records Act.

These records need to be public, all of them, including denials, including home addresses.

Yup, it is a bummer to make your home address a public record, and announce to the world that you own a gun, and then get denied. Shall-issue is the answer.

artherd
05-08-2006, 8:32 AM
Our whole website: http://californiaccw.org would be almost impossible and useless if these records weren't public. The single best tool we have to "force the issue" as it were is to expose misconduct, at the city and county level, and our one and only tool for doing that is the Public Records Act.

These records need to be public, all of them, including denials, including home addresses.

Yup, it is a bummer to make your home address a public record, and announce to the world that you own a gun, and then get denied. Shall-issue is the answer.
In the meantime, mail boxes etc is the answer! ;D

linuxgunner
05-08-2006, 10:47 AM
In the meantime, mail boxes etc is the answer! ;D

That brings up a question for me: On all of my official records (DMV, voter reg) I give my MBE address as my home address. I know a whole bunch of other people do the same thing because when I go to my polling place, when they are flipping through the pages to find my name, I can see a whole lot of other people have my same MBE address. Can I use my MBE address on my CCW application? If it's legit to do that, I will do it. I'll be submitting my CCW app in the next month or so.

If I must put my home addr, then I will.