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Gun permit confidentiality addressed in court decision

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As a means of punishing gun owners many media outlets, newspapers in particular, have published the names of concealed carry permit holders who live within their coverage area. In some instances addresses were provided with the names, along with maps pinpointing where the gun owners live.

Some states have laws that forbid such haphazard handling of personal information. Other states subsequently passed laws that keep this information confidential. One such state is Connecticut.

According to the advocacy group Connecticut Carry, the state has confidentiality laws that prevent news organizations from disclosing the names and addresses of those who hold permits to carry handguns. Further, a recent court case in Connecticut clarified the law to include not only permit holders but anyone who applies for a permit.

A superior court judge, however, along with the American News and Information Services, decided that the law does not apply as written but instead is to be read according to loose and broad interpretation.

Connecticut Carry has appealed the judge's decision with the hope that Connecticut's confidentiality law is applied evenly across the board and according to a strict interpretation of the law.

If the law is interpreted as written, the following restrictions will apply:

-- The Board of Firearms Permit Examiners will need to immediately cease and desist in publishing the roster that they currently publish on their website.
-- Hearings in front of the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners will need to become private affairs where anyone not immediately involved in a case must not be present in the hearing.
-- CT-N and other media sources will no longer be able to record and disseminate board hearings as they have been doing.
-- The Connecticut State Police will need to cease and desist in releasing permit information as they have done in the past.
-- Municipalities will no longer be able to perform ‘suitability investigations’ that include interviewing employers and neighbors like the City of New Haven has been doing for many years now.
-- Police, both in the municipal and in the state capacity will no longer be able to disclose upon arrest that a person was in possession of a pistol permit at the time of their arrest.
-- Police, both in the municipal and in the state capacity will no longer be able to disclose permit statuses over public radio communications, like they currently do.
-- All state agencies will need to redact their releases to make sure that they are not disclosing a permit holder’s name or address information.
-- Media will need to be sure that they are not an accomplice to the crime of releasing such confidential information and disobeying an FOIC ruling.

Connecticut Carry states that it will make sure these restrictions are enforced and that they will apply equally to law enforcement officers as well.

The importance of such restrictions cannot be overstated. In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a newspaper in New York state published an interactive map of concealed carry permit holders in two counties northwest of New York City. Homes were burglarized and guns stolen in the aftermath of the publication of the information.

In addition, retired law enforcement agents, prison guards, prosecutors, and judges, feared for their lives as criminals had a ready means of finding them in order to retaliate against them.

Through the years many newspapers with a long history of anti-gun propaganda used the publication of the names of gun permit holders as a means of humiliating and punishing ordinary citizens who carry firearms for personal protection.

(Hat tip to David Codrea).

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