Legislators bill could keep names of concealed permit applicants secret

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Should anyone be able to look up who has concealed weapon permits? Or should the names be kept private. Thirty states have passed laws making it illegal to publish the names of those applicants. Lawmakers in Louisiana could soon toughen up similar laws in the state.

Gun shop owners across America say since December's deadly school shooting in Connecticut, they've seen a significant increase in sales. Last month the FBI reported they've done more than two million background checks nationwide, the third highest month on record. While millions of Americans are being checked up on by the FBI, many don't necessarily want the public to know about their gun ownership.

It is a feeling prompted by recent stories in newspapers which publicized the names of gun owners in states other than Louisiana. But, it's an issue the legislature may get involved in.

"If they want their information published they can put a sign in their front yard that says protected by Smith and Wesson," said Representative Jeff Thompson, of Bossier. Thompson authored a bill that would make it a criminal act for that information to be publicized. Under current Louisiana law, that information is not considered a public record.

Attorney Lewis Unglesby says what Thompson is proposing is contradictory. He says if gun rights activists are okay with public background checks, why keep their names private?

"We'll tell everyone all about your history in order for you to buy a gun, but we won't tell anybody that you got the gun," Unglesby said.

"It identifies those individuals that may have valuables in their houses. There's an invitation...If I own more than one gun and I'm at work, please stop by here and break in," said Thompson. He added publishing that information could be offensive in some case. "People that were truly victims of domestic violence and other abuse that were able to get away from their abuser that felt the need to get a permit for their own protection."

Thompson says lately there has been an appetite to criminalize law abiding citizens who carry and printing their information would only put them at risk.

Unglesby says in a society where you can find out so much about a person on the internet, something he fell victim to after a recent case, giving one group special treatment means there's a bigger issue.

"Why as human beings, in this society are we so afraid of each other?" Uglesby asked. "How did America in 2013 get to be a country where people get excited about being able to shoot their neighbors?"

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