Pennsylvania Sheriff Sticks Up For Gun Owners’ Privacy, Fights Auditors Over Release Of Names

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Carl Nace, the sheriff of Perry County, Pa., is being sued. He won’t turn over his constituents’ gun licensing information to county auditors, and the auditors are suing him for the information, with a promise that they’ll return all the files once they’ve reviewed them.

Nace has steadfastly refused to release that information, telling The Patriot-News in April, “They want the names of the people who have gun permits, and that’s confidential.”

On Monday, the Perry County Commission agreed with him, unanimously voting (under the watchful eye of dozens of concerned locals) to hire a new auditor — under the condition that the auditor cannot be granted access to the permit holders’ names.

So far, that vote hasn’t settled the lawsuit, filed June 11 by auditors Kimberly McMullen, Barbara Hench and Donna Jones. They maintain that they are exempted from the State law sheriff Nace cites. But, judging from the passionate support for Nace the issue has generated, they’re clearly in the minority.

Whether he wins or loses the legal battle, Nace has already prevailed in the court of public opinion. Voters in Perry County turned up to the county commission meeting to declare their appreciation and support of the sheriff’s decision.

“One by one people went before Perry County Commissioners Monday to show their support for Sheriff Carl Nace,” WPMT reported Monday.

“The issue brought about no shortage of passion, and filled a courtroom on a Monday morning,” reported The Patriot-News. “Numerous residents shared their feelings with the commissioners, saying the auditors’ request is illegal, and it violates their rights. Most statements were met with applause.”

One resident explained his support for the sheriff’s position isn’t rooted only in the 2nd Amendment, but in his concern for government infringement on civil liberties generally.

“I’m a little disappointed nothing was resolved today,” resident Jim Lucas — evidently referencing the ongoing lawsuit against Nace — told The Patriot-News following Monday’s commission vote. “But I am extremely happy and enthusiastic that so many of my fellow Perry Countians are concerned about their civil rights.”

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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