Rowan commissioner wants to block public access to gun permits

  • Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 1:16 a.m.

SALISBURY — A Rowan County commissioner is pushing to nix the public’s access to gun-owner records, citing privacy and safety concerns.

Commissioner Mike Caskey plans to introduce a resolution at the board’s Monday meeting that asks the General Assembly to exempt handgun purchase permits and concealed carry permits from state public records law.

If the Rowan board adopts the resolution — which says it is “in the best interest of the citizens of the county and the state of North Carolina” to keep those records private — it would be the second county to do so.

Caskey told the Post Thursday the idea spawned from Gaston County’s board of commissioners. Gaston’s board unanimously approved the measure last week.

Releasing the information, Caskey said, threatens gun owners’ safety and privacy.

“Whether or not you own weapons,” Caskey said, “I think it should be private. I don’t think it’s something other people should know about.”

Caskey said he mentioned the resolution to Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten at an earlier time, but didn’t speak about it at length.

Auten told the Post he supports the resolution.

“Sometimes there’s a need-to-know concern, and the law right now says it’s public records. Some people would look at it as invasion of privacy,” Auten said. “I don’t like the idea that it’s out there, personally.”

The proposed resolution says the Sheriff’s Office database includes names, ages, addresses and “other information as may be requested from the Sheriff’s Office.”

Auten said he recognizes the information provided is limited, but said he would prefer it were restricted.

Unlike Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger — who told the Gaston Gazette he would not adhere to the law if asked for the county’s permit records — Auten said he would not defy public records law.

“We have to give it at this point, it’s in the public records law,” Auten said. “We’ll just see what the legislators do with it from here.”

Concealed-carry permits in the county represent about 6,500 to 7,500 people, Auten estimated.

Caskey said he believes criminals target gun owners’ homes, putting law-abiding citizens at an unnecessary risk.

Although Rowan is only the second county in the state to propose such a resolution, Caskey said more will soon.

“I thought this would be the right time, since other counties are doing it,” he said, noting that he has spoken with other county officials who voiced support.

“I don’t think we’re going to be the last one,” he said.

The Rowan County board of commissioners meets Monday at 3 p.m. at 130 West Innes Street in the J. Newton Cohen Sr. room.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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