Friday, February 8, 2013

ALERT: Help Us Protect Concealed Carry Lists From FOIA!

Senator Mark Obenshain

It looks like I’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest—and I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

Virginia is one of only twelve states where a concealed carry permit is a public record, the list of permit holders available to anyone who wants it. We had been one of thirteen, but even liberal New York shielded such records from public disclosure last month, after a newspaper infamously published an interactive map on their website, allowing you to view the names and addresses of all concealed handgun permit-holders. Whatever your position on guns, I think you ought to have a problem with that.

Back in 2007, the Roanoke Times published a similar database, but eventually pulled it because it inadvertently disclosed the names and addresses of victims of domestic violence. Virginia newspapers haven’t pulled that stunt since (though anyone looking for these names and addresses can get them at any time), but now, with legislation pending to provide for record confidentiality in Virginia, there are some in the media who are not happy about losing access to the database – and who are making that displeasure known.

I suspect that you’ll disagree with them. Exercising your constitutional right shouldn’t land you on some publicly available list. And while they say you shouldn’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, I’m not afraid to stand firm.

Several years back, the State Police records on concealed handgun permits were sealed, but clerks’ office records remain publicly available. I have a bill that, as amended, will change that, but it needs your support. Right now, members of the House of Delegates are receiving emails coordinated by opposition groups that think that everyone deserves to know who does and doesn’t carry a firearm.

This isn’t a gun bill; it’s a public safety bill. It doesn’t expand eligibility for a concealed handgun permit or make it easier to obtain. It simply affirms that exercising a constitutional right shouldn’t land your personal information on someone’s list with a government assist.

I think your Delegate might appreciate hearing from you on this issue, so please click here to find your Delegate’s contact information and to weigh in on this important issue.