Judge Tosses Auditors' Lawsuit That Would Have Revealed Concealed Carry Permit Holders

Posted: Sep 10, 2014 4:45 PM

A county audit took an odd turn in Perry County, Pennsylvania when auditors requested that the county sheriff turn over the names of its concealed carry permit holders. This issue dates back to April where auditor Kimberly McMullen requested the release of the information since concealed carry permits generate revenue for the county. She said she had no interest in names of the people who have permits, but said she was doing this to weed out financial discrepancies. "(In one case, in Beaver County, it) cost the county about $13,000 in revenue," she said, because an employee was discounting permit costs for friends," according to PennLive

Perry County Sheriff Carl Nace said this was a violation of PA’s Uniform Firearms Act, which says the transference of such information can only be within law enforcement. He also said he faces a $1,000 fine for each name if that information were to be released.

"They want the names of the people who have gun permits, and that's confidential," Nace said. "The only ones who can get information are law enforcement under official duty."

McMullen, along with two other auditors, filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Nace to get the information about the county's concealed carry holders.

Yesterday, a judge tossed the lawsuit (via PennLive):

Huntingdon County Judge George N. Zanic gave the legal win to Sheriff Carl Nace by upholding Nace's preliminary objections to the suit by auditors Barbara Hench, Donna Jones and Kimberly McMullen.

Nace, who was backed in the legal fight by the Pennsylvania Sheriffs' Association, contended that the auditors' demand for the permit holders names conflicted with his legal obligation to keep those names confidential.

The auditors claimed they needed the names to effectively audit the county's books. Zanic, who was named to preside specially in the case, found the auditors' argument to be "legally insufficient" and dismissed their suit.

State law doesn't give auditors the authority and access Hench, Jones and McMullen sought, the judge found. They are only authorized by law to conduct financial audits of the county's receipts and expenditures and are not charged with doing performance audits or quality control exams of other county agencies, Zanic wrote.

"The [lawsuit] seems to be nothing more than a fishing expedition for information unrelated to the [auditors'] statutory duty to audit," the judge wrote in tossing the case. Nace, he added, has a legal obligation to "protect the confidentiality of the information contained in his records."

The auditors will decide whether to file an appeal in the coming days.