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Lawmakers Push to Seal Concealed Carry Permits

By Daniel Cherry | Published 06 Feb 2013 09:26pm | comments
Some Mississippi lawmakers want to remove state issued concealed carry firearm permits from the public eye. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports that's drawing protest from freedom of information advocates. 
 
The bill would exempt concealed carry firearm permits from public records. The measure passed the Mississippi House of Representatives last week by a wide margin and now sits in the Senate for consideration. Senator Will Longwitz, a Republican from Madison, authored a Senate bill that died in committee, but he supports removing the records from public view.
 
Longwitz says, "We need to keep people safe and prevent happening here what has happened in New York when a newspaper requests public information about gun ownership, publishes it, and then peoples' homes are targeted by people trying to steal their weapons."
 
Longwitz is referring to an incident in New York when a newspaper published names and addresses of concealed carry permit holders in two counties. Jim Prince is President of the Mississippi Press Association. He's been a vocal opponent of the bill, saying local papers aren't out to harm permit holders and the bill would set a dangerous precedent.
 
"That was irresponsible, and, in my opinion, violated the public trust", says Prince, referring to the New York newspaper. "So if we're going to have records, they need to be open for public inspection, and, for us, it's the principle of transparency and not closing existing government records that are open."
 
But supporters say it's nobody's business who has a concealed carry permit. Representative Mark Baker, a Republican from Brandon authored the House bill.
 
"This is no more of a public record than a driver's license and the information that we contain on there or a birth certificate or a death certificate." Baker adds, "Although those are government documents and public records, I can't just walk down there and get anybody's birth certificate or anybody's death certificate I want."
 
A permit is not required to possess a firearm in Mississippi, but one is required to carry a concealed gun in public. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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