April 07, 2008

Guns > Should Handgun Carry Permits Be Made Public?

The Memphis Commercial Appeal's Blake Fontenay:

But as a journalist, I can see the value of having those records available to the public. If someone is involved in a school shooting or other heinous crime, wouldn’t you want to know if that person had a valid gun permit, when and where that permit was issued, etc., etc.? I know I would.

Fontenay's argument seems to be that public interest automatically trumps privacy concerns, To use Fontenay's example, if someone is involved in a school shooting wouldn't you want to know if the person was under psychiatric care and what medicine they were taking? Maybe you would, but it doesn't therefore follow that newspapers should publish everyone's medical records on the front page.

Taking that a step further, if you were a crazy ex-husband who wanted to kill your ex-wife in defiance of an order of protection, wouldn't you want to know if she has a permit to carry? More importantly, wouldn't you want to know where she had moved to in order to get away from you?

Newspapers have printed that information in their witch hunts on permit holders. When the Roanoke Times published a list of concealed carry permit holders in Virginia, their rationale was that the information should be available just as registries of sex offenders are available. There are at least two flaws in that logic. The first is that where sex offender registries exist they are mandated by law, not by the whims of newspaper publishers.

The second teensie-weensie distinction is that convicted sex offenders are criminals and permit holders are not. Far from it. Statistics show that the likelihood of a Tennessee permit holders to commit crime is lower than for the general public, or even the police. To get a permit in Tennessee I had to submit to a background check that looked for restraining orders, indictments, and criminal convictions (even a DUI would have made me ineligible). I also had to register my fingerprints with the state. Yet newspapers continue their bigotry against citizens legally carrying guns, even to the point of publishing their names in the newspaper with more than a hint of suspicion.

On a different topic, Fontenay is commenting on news that the Tennessee GOP made a public records request for a list of handgun carry permit holders in the state. The TN-GOP claims they want the information to add to their mailing lists. Some people suspect they want to see if any anti-gun Democrats have carry permits so they can make political hay. Either way, it's a boneheaded move by the TN-GOP, who had previously backed a bill protecting the privacy of handgun carry permit holders.

Hat tip to Michael Silence.

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack


"But as a journalist"

he see's the value of having these records publically and easily available cause it helps him to avoid having to actually work for a living. As a journalist.

But really, the anger here ought to be directed towards Bill Hobbs and the state Republican party who've seen fit to throw principle out the window in exchange for petty partisan political needs.

Posted by: countertop at April 07, 2008

I have a question for him, using his own argument. If a journalist has a source who is wanted by the law, or is guilty of criminal acts, don't we have a right as the public to know who that person is, and where to find them? And yet the media claims that they are not required to reveal their sources. What makes them better than anyone else?

Posted by: BobG at April 07, 2008

While i dont think that CCW/CPL/Whatever should be public, but if someone is involved in a shooting, and yes i know that CCW/CPL's are almost never invovled in a criminal shooting(at least as the criminal). I would not have an issue with the issuing agency, state/county responding to a directed query of say. Mr X was the shooter at the mall, did he have a CCW/CPL?

But other thing something like that. I think they should be treated as tax records, and just about never be released with out a warrent.

just my 2 cents.

Posted by: dagamore at April 08, 2008
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