November 29, 2014

Elyria
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County drops gun lawsuit

ELYRIA — The county on Monday dropped its lawsuit against Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Ohioans for Concealed Carry President Jeff Garvas.

The lawsuit had sought to have county Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi declare unconstitutional a 2004 state law requiring that county sheriff’s provide the names of concealed carry permit holders to journalists and determine whether Garvas, who had requested the names, could be considered a journalist because he writes for the organization’s quarterly newsletter.

Garvas said the lawsuit was dropped because he withdrew the request he made for the information in a Feb. 26 letter to county Sheriff Phil Stammitti.

Garvas, who said he doesn’t have time to fight the battle in Lorain County, had hoped to lose the lawsuit, which he believed effectively would have barred anyone from getting a list of those licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

The law, he said, was not designed to allow journalists to obtain an entire list of permit holders, but to allow them to check on individual names. Several newspapers, including The Chronicle, have published lists of permit applicants.

“There’s really no good that has come of publishing the list in the newspaper like you’re some kind of sex offender,” Garvas said.

Stammitti had argued that he was being asked to differentiate between journalists and nonjournalists when asked for information. If he made the wrong decision, he could face civil and criminal penalties.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will, who did not return a call seeking comment, had sent Garvas a letter saying he didn’t believe he qualified as a journalist. Will has said in the past that the purpose of the lawsuit was simply to get a clear answer to what a confusing state law means.

Garvas has been sued in other counties over the same issue and said some of those lawsuits are still pending.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.