Nearly 200 Perry County residents gathered in Courtroom 1 at the county courthouse Monday morning to show their support for Sheriff Carl Nace.
Perry County Auditor Kimberly McMullen requested the sheriff release all records of people with a permit to carry a concealed weapon, including their names and addresses. Nace refused, saying it was protected information and he could be sued under Pennsylvania Crimes Code.
"It is a violation of my right to privacy," said Vicki Gainer of Blain.
"Their request is ludicrous," said Jim Lucas of Shermans Dale.
"There is no reason or rationale to it and beside being against the law it seems to me there may be a hidden agenda here," said William Taylor Reil, founder of the County Sheriffs Brigade of Pennsylvania.
County auditors have sued the sheriff. Commissioners paid $2,000 for a solicitor to represent the auditors, but say they will not release any more money at this time.
"It is my understanding that we could end up paying for both lawyers and that is sad," Commissioner Paul Rudy said. "I have not seen any change of heart with the auditors. I wish they had been here today because I think they would have gotten a better picture of what the people feel and that they are wasting their money, they are wasting the taxpayer's money."
During the meeting, commissioners voted to approve an independent audit of gun permits without using names. What will happen with the lawsuit remains to be seen.
"I certainly hope the auditors drop it," Commissioner Brenda Benner said. "I believe our constituents spoke very loudly today and clearly, and this is what they want us to do, and I for one intend to follow their wishes."
Residents say if the auditors do not drop the lawsuit, they are prepared to file a lawsuit of their own.
"Back off. Leave us alone. The people that put you in office have spoken," Gainer said.
"They need to cease and desist," Reil said. "They are breaking the law and should never have started in the first place."
"Once Sheriff Nace's position is vindicated in the courts, we are going to go after the auditors and have them pay back all of the taxpayers' money," Lucas said.
The auditors' attorney could not be reached for comment.