Government secrecy or personal privacy?: Concealed weapons permit data

As many of you certainly know, the legislature has wrestled this session on the issue of the extent to which the concealed weapons permits should be kept secret.

I have corresponded with many of you on this matter.  Some of you — including very close friends whose views I deeply value — expressed grave and, unfortunately, mutually irreconcilable concerns

I ended up supporting the Judiciary Committee’s minority report on LD 345 which sought generally to keep limited permit information public but also explicitly to protect those such as domestic abuse victims, crime witnesses, judges, jurors, and law enforcement officers whose safety might be threatened through any disclosure. (Note that domestic violence victims are already given general protection from public disclosure though the use of a different proxy legal address.)

The minority report sought to dampen any possibility of “wholesale” release of permit data by limiting public inquiry to single individual request per day. So a member of the public could walk into the local police station and ask if one individual at a specific address had been locally issued a concealed weapons permit and expect simply to receive an answer of either yes or no.

The minority report also allowed confidentiality to be extended to anyone with reason to believe that disclosure of their name and town would subject them to harassment.

But ultimately, after extensive floor debate, the minority report failed by a large margin.

The bill as passed essentially makes secret all individual concealed weapons permit information at some expense to public oversight and transparency.

Knowing that many of you care about this issue and that some of you necessarily will be disappointed with my position, I just wanted to be transparent with you on my own reasoning and voting.