Do county officials have a right to know who has purchased a permit to carry a concealed weapon? Auditors in Perry County want to see the list, but the sheriff says the information is confidential.
Sheriff Carl Nace says he will not hand over names and addresses because of Section 6111 in the Pennsylvania crimes code, which states carry permit information should be kept confidential from the public.
The auditor's attorney, Craig J. Staudenmaier, says the auditors are not the public and the law does not prohibit the sheriff from providing the requested information to the auditors.
Many people think the sheriff is right on target. A Facebook page called "Perry County Stands Behind Sheriff Carl Mace" has hundreds of supporters.
"If I were to have one, I wouldn't want nobody releasing my information. It's my information. It's private, so nobody should have it," said Darlene McCabe of Landisburg.
"What's their reasoning for wanting the records? What gain do they get from it? We're already on record that we have them, it's just confidential," said Gavin Kennedy of Landisburg.
"They must crosscheck and verify permits issued and money paid with the individual to whom the records indicate the permit was issued," Staudenmaier said in a statement. "It should also be noted that review of these complete records is standard practice throughout Pennsylvania."
Many county residents still do not want their information in the auditors' crosshairs.
"It's crosshairing they need," Kennedy said. "I have a carry permit myself and it's something that doesn't need to be public at all. There's no reason for it. There's no gain at all."
"When the Auditors complete their review, those records are then returned back to the Sheriff and no information from them, especially any name or address info, is ever released to the public by the Auditors nor do they keep any of that information," Staudenmaier said.
Here is the full statement from Staudenmaier:
"I represent the Perry County Auditors in the declaratory judgment action that they have filed against the Sheriff. The auditors are required by law to audit the records of all county officials and departments including the Sheriff's Office.
This requires review of the original, complete records. This includes the records kept by the Sheriff's Department of the issuance of concealed firearm permits.
The Sheriff has insisted on not providing those original, complete records but on redacting name and address info for person's issued such permits. The Auditors cannot complete their statutory audit duties with partial records.
It must be noted, that when the Auditors complete their review, those records are then returned back to the Sheriff and no information from them, especially any name or address info, is ever released to the public by the Auditors nor do they keep any of that information.
There has been some misunderstanding by or the public in this regard and my clients want to clarify that and assure the citizens that they do not and will not release such info.
By the same token, they must cross check and verify permits issued and money paid with the individual to whom the records indicate the permit was issued.
It should be noted that part of each fee ($1.00) goes to the Commonwealth and that too must be audited by them by statute. It should also be noted that review of these complete records is standard practice throughout Pennsylvania.
The Sheriff contends that he is restricted from releasing the info by a provision of the Uniform Firearms Act that prohibits release of the information 'to the public." The Auditors are not 'the public.' We disagree that this provision prohibits him from providing the requested information to the auditors.
The Auditors have tried to resolve this issue numerous times but the Sheriff has continually refused to provide the complete records. We have then commenced this action and have asked the court to declare that the Act relied upon by the Sheriff does not prohibit the release of these records to the Auditors.
My clients regret that this action had to be taken but the refusal of the Sheriff left them with no choice as they are required by law to conduct and complete their audit.
We look forward to the prompt resolution of this issue by the courts."
Sources say the issue will be brought up at the commissioners meeting, which will take place on Monday morning at 10 a.m. in courtroom 1.