Senator Will Longwitz submitted the following column to JJ:
Are you thinking of applying for a conceal-carry permit? If so, your name and application information is public information that any newspaper can print. Rep. Mark Baker and I have introduced bills to change that, and to keep your personal information private.
I wrote my bill after recent events in New York State, and after constituents contacted me with their concerns. A New York newspaper used the state's public records laws to print the home addresses of permit holders on a map. Thieves then used that map to invade at least two of the permit-holders' homes in search of their guns. Fortunately, the owners weren't home, and no lives were lost.
Mississippians now face a similar risk. When you apply for conceal-carry permits here, your name and information are public for 45 days. In the information age, that's forever. Criminals can use that information to target you, and anti-gun groups have already promised to reveal all public gun information, state-by-state. There is no reason we should face this risk.
A simple change can protect gun owners from becoming victims. Exempting conceal-carry permit information from public records law will keep private information private. It's a simple fact: people should not become targets simply for trying to defend themselves.
The rest of the nation is trending this way. USA Today just reported that 35 states give gun license information to law enforcement only. Why should Mississippi remain among only 13 states that make it public? Even New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo just signed a law limiting access to gun information.
Who could object, you ask? The media. They want maximum openness in government, and so do I. But this is not government information, and we are not on a slippery slope. My bill combines two established strains of personal privacy already enshrined in our public records law. First, we already protect other personal information the government forces you to give. If you apply for a medical license in Mississippi, your personal information is exempt from disclosure. That's private data that should remain private even when government gets it.
Second, private information stays private if revealing it would put the person at risk. Take jury information. It's clear why we keep that private: we don't want people afraid to serve. This same logic applies to conceal-carry. When government demands personal information to obtain a license, you should not be forced to have it become public.
We can debate whether a state should require conceal-carry permits at all. (Only 3 states don't.) But whether you agree with screening applicants for licenses or not, most folks agree that it's nobody's business whether I carry a gun for protection.
I wish we could rely on the media to keep gun info private, but we can't. While I know and respect my local publishers, other media are not as careful with personal information that's public. A website just "outed" 446 New York City gun owners. In 2007, a Virginia paper published concealed-carrier names and addresses. When conceal-carry was passed here, the Clarion-Ledger published all applicants' names, as readers may recall. I have heard from people who believe they were targeted for break-ins as a result.
Protecting conceal-carry permit information achieves both of the narrow goals of public records exemptions: it keeps personal information private if the government takes it, and it protects privacy to prevent harm. I think we can protect gun owners without denying the media and the public any government information they should rightfully have. So let's keep gun owners safe. Let's make conceal-carry applications private in Mississippi.
Senator Will Longwitz
Madison, Ridgeland, Gluckstadt, NE Jackson
Committees: Constitution (Vice-Chair); Business & Financial Institutions; County Affairs; Ethics; Finance; Insurance; Judiciary A
P.O. Box 1273
Madison, MS 39130
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Senator Will Longwitz submitted the following column to JJ:
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Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).
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Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.
Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!
This is definitely a Beaver production.
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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!
This is definitely a Beaver production.
Note: Security provided by INS.