By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
LINCOLN – A Nebraska lawmaker, looking to avoid the type of controversy that enveloped a New York newspaper, has introduced a bill that would ban the release of information about holders of handgun permits.
Sen. Bill Kintner, R-Papillion, said his proposal, LB293, is designed to prevent a scenario such as the one involving The Journal News, which published the names and addresses of people holding handgun permits, sparking the ire of gun owners.
On Dec. 23 The Journal News published the names and addresses of gun permit holders in two counties, complete with an online map. The story caused such an outcry that the newspaper hired armed guards to protect its staffers, and a local gun group urged advertisers to boycott the paper.
Kintner said the New York case illustrates the problems that can result from disclosing information about permit holders.
“When you release the names of people that have some type of gun permit, you expose people like judges,” he said. “You’re pretty much telling criminals who doesn’t have a gun, too.”
He said he can’t think of any legitimate reason to publicize the names of gun owners other than “to cause trouble.” Nebraska already bans the disclosure of names of people with permits to carry concealed weapons.
His bill prohibits the public release of information about gun registration, sales or use obtained by law enforcement, the Department of Motor Vehicles or any other state and federal agencies.
In the wake of the New York controversy, that state’s Legislature passed legislation banning public disclosure of information about gun permits for 120 days, after which permit holders can ask to have their names withheld.
Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said only seven other states require some type of permit to buy or own a handgun. Her group supports keeping open information about gun permits and concealed weapon permits.
“We think that the records should be available just like any other public records,” she said. “Because the public has the right to know who’s carrying loaded guns.”
She said gun owners often have an irrational fear that the government will take their guns away, but in states where this information is public, “nothing like that has happened.”
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