Meridian Star

New Today

January 19, 2013

Bills would remove gun permits from public records

JACKSON —     JACKSON (AP) — Some Mississippi lawmakers propose cutting off public access to records about state-issued permits for people to carry concealed guns.

    Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon and Sen. Will Longwitz of Madison say they want the change because a newspaper in New York published names and other information about people there who have concealed weapons permits.

    The two Republicans said permit holders shouldn't have to worry about their address or other personal information being publicly disclosed.

    No permit is required for people to have guns in their homes, businesses or vehicles, and no permit is required for antique or collectible weapons. Baker said the document gives permission for someone to carry a pistol or revolver concealed in a bag or under a jacket in other places, such as public sidewalks. A background check is required before a permit is issued.

    Baker told The Associated Press that he filed a bill after receiving requests from constituents who believe it's none of anyone else's business if they carry concealed guns.

    "It just struck me that simply because the document is in possession of the government does not, in my mind, make it a public document," Baker said.

    Under current law, information about a concealed weapons permit becomes public record 45 days after the document is issued or the application is denied. The documents are filed with the state Department of Public Safety.

    Mississippi Press Association president Jim Prince said he supports Second Amendment gun rights but opposes putting restrictions on public records. He said the current law works.

    "While I sometimes wish we could enact laws to prevent newspapers from behaving irresponsibly, we can't. Trampling the First Amendment to protect the Second is a slippery slope," Prince said in the Madison County Journal, which is published by his company, Prince Newspapers.

    Longwitz said in a written statement to the Madison County Journal that there's a balancing act between public safety and the First Amendment rights of free speech.

    "Anti-gun activists have already promised to go state-to-state 'outing gun owners,'" Longwitz said. "Making conceal-carry information public puts law-abiding Mississippians in danger."

    Attorneys for the Legislature are still drafting bills that have been requested this year, and Longwitz's bill did not show up on the legislative website Friday.

    Baker's is House Bill 149.

    Baker said he did not file the bill at the request of the National Rifle Association. He also said he does not have a concealed weapons permit.

    It's been rare in recent years for Mississippi newspapers to publish the identities of people with concealed weapons permits.

    The Associated Press asked Baker whether closing access to concealed weapons permits might make it more difficult for people to find out if an angry neighbor or potential stalker has state permission to carry a concealed weapon.

    "I think if a person is in a position where they feel someone is threatening to commit a crime against them, they should communicate with the law enforcement agency where this is occurring or where they reside," Baker said.

Text Only
New Today
Biz Marquee
New Today

Do you think the city of Meridian should aggressively enforce the city's code enforcement laws on litter, abandoned homes and overgrown lots by issuing tickets and stiff fines?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide