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The Ohio Democratic Party tried unsuccessfully this week to get information on all people licensed to carry concealed weapons in the Buckeye State.
The state party sent letters to Ohio's 88 sheriffs requesting the names and addresses of permit holders and the dates the licenses were issued. Ohio has about 211,000 permit holders.
But neither the Democrats nor any other political party can get that information. The records are exempt from the public record laws. The only public access was given to journalists when then-Gov. Bob Taft signed the law in 2004.
Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti, a Democrat, denied the request Friday.
"I must also advise you that the information you are requesting is NOT a public record and CANNOT be released," Stammitti wrote in a letter to the party.
The Democrats intended to target people who support the Second Amendment -- the constitutional right to bear arms -- with campaign information, said party spokesman, Seth Bringman.
The party learned the information was not public and then sent a second letter apologizing to the 88 sheriffs.
"We asked them to rescind our request," Bringman said.
Derek DeBrosse, an attorney for Ohioans for Concealed Carry, a gun-rights group, said the law is clear and political parties are not privy to the information.
"We applaud them for rescinding the request," he said.
The group also objects to journalists having access to the information, DeBrosse said.
The Democrat's request came a week after the National Rifle Association endorsed Gov. Ted Strickland over Republican challenger John Kasich.
Since becoming governor, Strickland in 2008 signed bills making the "castle doctrine" law in Ohio. It presumes that people acted in self-defense when using force against someone who illegally entered their home or car. He also that year signed a bill championed by gun supporters that lessened restrictions on concealed carry license holders.
And Strickland has said that he supports Senate Bill 239, a bill making its way through the Ohio legislature that would allow concealed carry license holders to tote their firearms in alcohol-serving establishments such as family restaurants and bars -- a measure opposed by police groups. That Ohio bill is one of the top priorities in the country for the NRA.
The Democratic Party's request had nothing to do with the NRA endorsement, Bringman said.
§ 04 Bearing arms; standing armies; military powers (1851)
The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.