Legislature ready to seal list of concealed weapon permits

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COLUMBIA --- South Carolina is poised to become the 28th state to keep secret the list of residents allowed to carry concealed weapons, a move favored by gun owners but opposed by advocates of open government.

South Carolina is among six states with legislation pending that would close the information to public scrutiny, according to the National Rifle Association, which has advocated the measures.

Gun enthusiasts such as Rep. Mike Pitts, who sponsored the South Carolina bill, call the publishing of the gun owners' names an attack on the Second Amendment.

"Having a concealed weapon means I'm supposed to have it hidden," said Mr. Pitts, R-Laurens, a retired law enforcement officer who teaches a handgun safety course to legislators and their families. "You're not supposed to know I've got one."

Open-government advocates counter that the government should never dole out licenses in secret.

"You need public oversight," said Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "How else will you know if the state is issuing licenses in a fair way?"

Ms. Dalglish says she doesn't understand why concealed carry permits should be singled out for privacy when all other licenses -- whether for beauticians, bars or barristers -- are public.

The Legislature in South Carolina -- where one in five legislators holds a concealed weapon permit, according to a recent review by The State newspaper of Columbia -- is ready to send the measure to Republican Gov. Mark Sanford. His spokesman, Joel Sawyer, said the governor has not yet reviewed the legislation.

The bill would exempt the identities of permit holders from what's available through the Freedom of Information Act and grant access only to law enforcement or through a court order.

The House, which passed the bill unanimously in May, is set to take up Senate changes to the bill Tuesday. They include requiring the state to publish statistical information yearly on permit holders and applicants, a change Mr. Pitts supports.

Mr.Pitts said he was incensed by a column last March in The Roanoke Times that focused on concealed weapon permits as a way to highlight Sunshine Week, the annual observance of open government and public records laws. The Virginia newspaper's online version included a link to the state's more than 135,000 permit holders and their street addresses.

The newspaper pulled the link the next day, citing concerns that it might have included names that should not be public, according to a follow-up Roanoke Times article.

South Carolina is among six states with legislation pending that would prevent public access to concealed weapons permits.
WHY? Supporters call the publishing of gun owners' names an attack on the Second Amendment, saying the point of having a concealed weapon is that it is hidden.
OPPONENTS SAY: The government should not give out licences in secret; public scrutiny is needed to determine whether the state is issuing licences in a fair manner.

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Duderotomy 03/24/08 - 04:06 am
I guess I don't mind people

I guess I don't mind people knowing I have a concealed weapons permit but why have my address associated with it? I guess this would allow a last minute on-line "check" by thieves before they targeted me or my neighborhood.."watch the house two doors down..according to "Who's Gotta Gun.com", he's packin' man"....

christian134 03/24/08 - 05:38 am
I, for one, do not believe

I, for one, do not believe anyone has the right to open records to the public if the right to carry a concealed weapon is granted. To carry a concealed weapon means just that..weapon carried without being revealed to any and everyone. It is amazing that the criminal element has always found it easy to buy and carry all makes of weapons...Look to control them first then there would be no need to bother law abiding citizens.

OkieGa1688 03/24/08 - 11:13 am
The fact that a concealed gun

The fact that a concealed gun Permit, states that the gun be concealed ... makes life safer for anyone and everyone. "If" a criminal sees anyone with a coat, jacket, or anything that could conceal a "possible" weapon, makes all "legal" citizens safer. By publishing the names and even worse, the address of the conceal carrier public, lets criminals know who has a permit to carry, and who does not. It also lets criminals know where they could "maybe" steal a gun, if a person who carrys may have other gun's in their homes. If a person were to walk in a place of buisness, and see a cop or a security guard carrying a gun, who will be the first to get shot or targeted by a criminal? The thought behind a conceal carry, is to make the criminal element, worrying about who may or may not be carrying a gun. Many conceal carry permit holders have risked their lives and their possible freedoms, to defend the weaker in society, by using their gun to protect other's ... even though it is not their job, but a feeling of obligation, to those who may not carry for whatever the reason. I think this law is a good one ... let's protect the good guys for a change.

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