by Steven Hale
When The Journal News, a Gannett-owned daily in the New York City suburbs, decided to publish a map identifying local gun permit holders, they opened up a new front in the national guns debate: whether handgun permit records should be public.
Naturally, Tennessee legislators are racing to the front lines. Two Republican legislators have filed bills that would restrict the availability of gun permit records, or close them altogether.
State Sen. Stacey Campfield has filed SB76 [PDF], which would limit request for permit records to 15 per day, but ban publication of the records. (He has tried to apply a similar rule over at his blog.)
Another bill, though, from newly elected state Rep. William Lamberth, goes further.
Lamberth's HB8 [PDF] would close the records off from the public, but allow them to be used in law enforcement investigations.
Thanks to Chas Sisk at The Tennessean, we're reminded that a similar push stalled several years ago — OK, that's the real link — when legislators remembered that they might want to use those records for campaign purposes.
For what it's worth, in conversations with gun show attendees for last week's City Paper cover story, the issue consistently came up about a half-second after I identified myself as a reporter. Views on the matter, at least among the gun owners I talked to, were split about evenly between "You can print my address in the paper right now, I want everyone to know I'm armed" and "They're showing criminals where to go if they want to steal a gun, and where to go if they don't want to worry about an armed home owner."