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"Shedding light on concealed handguns"

Old 03-21-07, 06:44 PM
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"Shedding light on concealed handguns"

This article appeared in the Sunday, March 11 issue of the Roanoke Times (Virginia) and needless to say it has pissed a lot of people off:

http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/tr...b/wb/xp-108160

Shedding light on concealed handguns

By Christian Trejbal

Today is the start of Sunshine Week, the annual week in which we reflect on the importance of open government and public records. To mark the occasion, I want to take you on an excursion into freedom of information land. We're going to find out who in the New River Valley has a concealed handgun permit.

I can hear the shocked indignation of gun-toters already: It's nobody's business but mine if I want to pack heat.

Au contraire. Because the government handles the permitting, it is everyone's business.

There are good reasons the records are open to public scrutiny. People might like to know if their neighbors carry. Parents might like to know if a member of the car pool has a pistol in the glove box. Employers might like to know if employees are bringing weapons to the office.

And all Virginians have a stake in checking that their government is not making mistakes, for example, by issuing permits to convicted felons. Open records allow the media or any private citizen to check.

This is not about being for or against guns. There are plenty of reasons people choose to carry weapons: fear of a violent ex-lover, concern about criminals or worry that the king of England might try to get into your house. There are plenty of reasons to question the wisdom of widespread gun ownership, too.

But that's a debate for another time.

To illustrate the open government process, I set out to acquire permit lists for the New River Valley.

I first called the local circuit court clerks charged with overseeing permitting. They were helpful, as far as they could be.

Only Radford and Floyd County said they could produce a list. Giles County maintains an unofficial list but could not produce an official one. Montgomery and Pulaski counties had squat. The best they could do is determine if a specific individual had a permit.

None of that conflicts with the law. The records must be available but not necessarily in the format citizens want.

Fortunately, one of the clerks tipped me off to another avenue. The state police, she thought, maintained a master list.

I called Richmond and found out that yes, they did have a statewide list. Bingo!

Then another lesson of open government hit. A copy would cost more than $100.

Any Virginian can show up at a government office and request a public document. If it is something simple such as a council agenda, officials usually gladly duplicate it, maybe charging a few cents for the photocopy.

If it is something more complicated, government agencies may charge for the time and effort to prepare the records. In the case of concealed handgun permits, state police need to weed through them to cut out some personal data, which takes staff time.

A state that eagerly puts sex offender data online complete with an interactive map could easily do the same with gun permits, but it does not.

I bit the bullet and placed my order, saving the paper a few bucks by taking a Jan. 18 list officials had recently prepared for someone else.

The compact disc arrived last week. Names, addresses, issue and expiration dates.

About 2 percent of Virginians, 135,789 of us, have concealed handgun permits. In the New River Valley, 3,826 people have them, a slightly higher rate than in the rest of the state.

I immediately started checking some names. Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, no permit. Pulaski County Supervisor Dean Pratt, packing. Radford University President Penelope Kyle, no permit. Giles County Supervisor Paul "Chappy" Baker, packing.

Some of the names proved tricky. Dana Dwayne Munsey of Pembroke has a permit. Is that Mayor Munsey? Standoffish town officials wouldn't provide a middle name or address for confirmation, and the listed phone number is disconnected.

The list sports a dismayingly large number of typos for an official registry -- four different spellings of "Christiansburg," for example.

Local celebrities generally don't carry, but at least a half dozen elected officials do. I'll leave it to readers to figure out which ones so you can avoid annoying them at meetings.

As a Sunshine Week gift, The Roanoke Times has placed the entire database, mistakes and all, online at www.roanoke.com/gunpermits. You can search to find out if neighbors, carpool partners, elected officials or anyone else has permission to carry a gun.

Open government laws arose from distrust of government. They guarantee citizens can watch what government does in their names, including issuing gun permits.
The list of permit holders, which was originally posted online, was removed and replaced with this statement from the newspaper:

March 12, 2007 — The Roanoke Times has decided to remove the online database of registered concealed handgun permit holders from its website.

The newspaper is requesting the Virginia State Police, which provided the information, verify the data.

“When we posted the information, we had every reason to believe that the data the State Police had supplied would comply with the statutes. But people have notified us that the list includes names that should not have been released,” said Debbie Meade, president and publisher of The Roanoke Times. “Out of a sense of caution and concern for the public we have decided to take the database off of our website.”

The database was posted on roanoke.com on Sunday as part of a New River Valley editorial page column about open records. This column, as well as others that will be published this week, is part of a special focus on Sunshine Week, a national initiative to raise awareness about open government and freedom of information.
Many reader responses as well as the author's (intially, until he gave up) responses to them are here:

http://blogs.roanoke.com/roundtable/...column_12.html

Naturally, there were several who maintain unlisted phone numbers and addresses who had their information posted. I believe there were also some who were hiding from abusive ex-spouses who also had their information posted.
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Old 03-21-07, 06:52 PM
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Interesting assumption they make...I have a permit, and am not "packing," except in the obligatory sexual manner.
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Old 03-21-07, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Interesting assumption they make...I have a permit, and am not "packing," except in the obligatory sexual manner.
You chose an odd thread to come out of the closet.

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Old 03-21-07, 08:39 PM
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Interesting responses, but not a surprise. These gun owners make it sound like they have hitmen after them. If they only knew how crime actually worked, they couldn't give a shit, because most criminals certainly wouldn't even know about FOIA, and are more opportunistic, rather than the type that stakeout your home for days.

If a burglar is going to stakeout your home for days, even without a fucking FOIA printout revealing your status, they could easily get to know your daily and night routines, and I guarantee, even a gun wouldn't help most of these gun owners as they would be surprised and overcome quickly.

Also, as noted by the author, you'd think posting your name that you're armed would actually deter the criminal. But now it's being spun as a molestation of the 1st Amendment.
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Old 03-21-07, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
If a burglar is going to stakeout your home for days, even without a fucking FOIA printout revealing your status, they could easily get to know your daily and night routines, and I guarantee, even a gun wouldn't help most of these gun owners as they would be surprised and overcome quickly.
Wouldn't be much of a burglar to interact with the homeowner, would he? He'd be a much better robber.

Also, as noted by the author, you'd think posting your name that you're armed would actually deter the criminal. But now it's being spun as a molestation of the 1st Amendment.
Not a molestation, but certainly a very inconsiderate and borderline irresponsible act. As pointed out in some of those comments, there are people who are required to register certain information with the government who have still taken substantial pains to camoflauge their addresses from others for a variety of reasons. Of course, since the list appears to have been up for a day or so, no actual harm was probably done.

Ask youself this. What did he gain by actually posting the complete list? He could have made his point quite nicely without doing so. What real purpose did it serve?
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Old 03-21-07, 08:52 PM
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1) Depends if the burglar confronted the homeowner and actually robbed their person. Most are certainly not out for a confrontation. But if they did stakeout the place, originally for a property crime, they could overcome the gunowner since they knew the routines--probably better than the homeowner himself.

2) I agree. It was still a stupid thing to do, because it is rather known state records are not too accurate. The ones that are, you can't get your hands on. Posting such a large list and expecting it to be accurate, while at the same time making sure that it is possible there are names on their which probably should not be, was not smart--of course this latter statement should be held accountable to the state since it's their damn list.

Last edited by DVD Polizei; 03-21-07 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 03-21-07, 09:18 PM
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I don't think a burglar would be as concerned about which homeowner has a gun as which ones don't.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:12 PM
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Not sure I like the thread title. To me this has nothing to do with guns, but availability of records.
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Old 03-22-07, 05:10 PM
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Just another idiot doing something idiotic to impress people that already agree with him and piss off those who don't. Oh yeah, and invading a lot of innocent people's privacy to boot. Way to change the world asshole, you obviously have a refined understanding of how to persuade people to see your point of view.
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Old 03-22-07, 08:13 PM
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Actually, if anything, his idiotic acts will create legislation to further hinder obtaining records like this.
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Old 03-22-07, 08:51 PM
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Meh. There's lots of personal information that gets posted publicly.

I remember when my parents got divorced, my ninth grade history teacher came up to me and said, "I know you're parents are getting divorced, so if you need to talk..." I was like, how did you know that? "You can't hide something if it's in the papers."

I like this line:
A state that eagerly puts sex offender data online complete with an interactive map could easily do the same with gun permits, but it does not.
True. Although there is a pretty obvious reason why they have one, but not the other, but I can see the author's point.
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Old 03-22-07, 11:30 PM
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If people don't want you to know they are packing, some need to rethink their bumper stickers.

It seems like the issue isn't whether you can find out if someone owns a gun, rather whether you can find out other private information about someone simply because they own a gun that could otherwise remain private.

If it is truly a matter of public record, I'm not sure why the newspaper pulled it. I guess some information that should not be of public record was released inadvertantly?
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Old 03-22-07, 11:46 PM
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A state that eagerly puts sex offender data online complete with an interactive map could easily do the same with gun permits, but it does not.
Let's see here...to obtain my concealed weapons permit I had to take a gun safety course, THEN fill out and application with the Sheriff's department for the FBI background check, THEN get finger printed and have a mugshot taken. Oh yeah, I have to re-apply AND be re-finger printed AND re-photoed every 4 years at a cost of $30.

Ok...let's see...to end up on a sex-offender registry you have to...shit...um...I had it a second ago....damn...what is it? What was it??? Oh yeah, BREAK THE FUCKIN' LAW!!!

The point of the initial article I'm sure is to single the individuals who decide to take it upon themselves to carry concealed, as if they are criminals themselves. No offense, but it's not my neighbor's business whether or not I own a gun. I still can't wrap my head around people still debating the 2nd Amendment...why is this the ONLY one that seems to still be "unclear" to a vast majority of the populous?!?
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Old 03-23-07, 12:05 AM
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But states say it is in fact, appropriate to obtain information about citizens who are concealing a weapon.

The 2nd Amendment and the Constitution in general, say NOTHING about having your license information made private. It just implies you can own a gun. That's it. So, where do you get privacy from the 2nd Amendment? Because it's not there.

I see the problem some gun owners have, but you fail to realize having a CCP is not a right of every citizen. It is a privilege. You go through certain measures to obtain a CCP. The government is, in effect, giving you a temporary license to carry a weapon on your person.
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Old 03-23-07, 02:25 AM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
But states say it is in fact, appropriate to obtain information about citizens who are concealing a weapon.

The 2nd Amendment and the Constitution in general, say NOTHING about having your license information made private. It just implies you can own a gun. That's it. So, where do you get privacy from the 2nd Amendment? Because it's not there.

I see the problem some gun owners have, but you fail to realize having a CCP is not a right of every citizen. It is a privilege. You go through certain measures to obtain a CCP. The government is, in effect, giving you a temporary license to carry a weapon on your person.
I'm not saying that the 2nd Amendment makes any mention of privacy, I'm just pointing out the fact that laws, like carrying concealed, are only followed by law-abiding citizens. Criminals are gonna break the law anyway.

Actually, an argument can be made that in fact everyone should have the right to carry concealed..."the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." I choose to keep and bear my arms on my person at all times.

Probably the biggest problem with printing the names of individuals with CCP/CWP is the simple fact that as a gun owner maybe one does not like the government knowing that they own guns BECAUSE, technically, they (the government) don't have the right to know. Private sale amongst law-abiding citizens is completely legal.

And with your last point...check out Vermont, they have NO concealed carry law, EVERYONE is allowed to carry.
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Old 03-23-07, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by MartinBlank
I'm not saying that the 2nd Amendment makes any mention of privacy, I'm just pointing out the fact that laws, like carrying concealed, are only followed by law-abiding citizens. Criminals are gonna break the law anyway.

Actually, an argument can be made that in fact everyone should have the right to carry concealed..."the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." I choose to keep and bear my arms on my person at all times.

Probably the biggest problem with printing the names of individuals with CCP/CWP is the simple fact that as a gun owner maybe one does not like the government knowing that they own guns BECAUSE, technically, they (the government) don't have the right to know. Private sale amongst law-abiding citizens is completely legal.

And with your last point...check out Vermont, they have NO concealed carry law, EVERYONE is allowed to carry.
while we are on this we should also ban the licensing and registration for cars and anything else that requires licensing and registration
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Old 03-23-07, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
while we are on this we should also ban the licensing and registration for cars and anything else that requires licensing and registration
Did I miss the part in the Constitution that says " all citizens have the right to keep and bear automobiles." Could you give me the ammendment number? My copy of the Constitution appears to be defective.
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Old 03-23-07, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
The 2nd Amendment and the Constitution in general, say NOTHING about having your license information made private. It just implies you can own a gun. That's it. So, where do you get privacy from the 2nd Amendment? Because it's not there.
.
That right is not implied but stated specifically in the second part of the second ammendment:

The right of the citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
If you want to talk about an implied right, then you can talk about the "right" to privacy.

Last edited by crazyronin; 03-23-07 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 03-23-07, 08:43 PM
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Huh? There is no RIGHT TO PRIVACY stated in the 2nd Amendment, of the US Constitution. Period. If YOU want to argue implications and what our forefathers meant, then YOU can imply all you want.

By just reading the sentence of the 2nd Amendment, you can easily infer the right to own a weapon shall not be infringed, and that right to own a weapon only. Our forefathers say nothing about having that info kept private. In fact, it probably wasn't even an issue then. So, you'll have to use another legal reference OTHER than the US Constitution.

I'm not saying you don't have a right to privacy, I'm just saying use a different legal reference.
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Old 03-23-07, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Huh? There is no RIGHT TO PRIVACY stated in the 2nd Amendment, of the US Constitution. Period. If YOU want to argue implications and what our forefathers meant, then YOU can imply all you want.

By just reading the sentence of the 2nd Amendment, you can easily infer the right to own a weapon shall not be infringed, and that right to own a weapon only. Our forefathers say nothing about having that info kept private. In fact, it probably wasn't even an issue then. So, you'll have to use another legal reference OTHER than the US Constitution.

I'm not saying you don't have a right to privacy, I'm just saying use a different legal reference.
I think that you need to read my (and your) post(s) a little more carefully.

1. You stated that the second ammendment "implies" the right to own a gun.

2. I disagreed, stating that the secomd ammendment explicitly gives the right to keep and bear arms.

3. I said if you wanted to talk about an implied right, that would be the right to privacy, a right that is nowhere explicitly stated, but rather implied through various ammendments.

At no time during my post did I imply that a right to privacy is explicitly stated in the second ammendment or anywhere else in the Constitution.
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Old 03-23-07, 09:57 PM
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Ok, sorry about that. So, you're saying the right to bear arms is a right, and it is not implied. Fair enough. I would debate this though, but I can see your point.
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Old 03-23-07, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Ok, sorry about that. So, you're saying the right to bear arms is a right, and it is not implied. Fair enough. I would debate this though, but I can see your point.
How is it not a right?
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Old 03-24-07, 12:07 AM
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Well, it's not a right today (which is what I meant to say). Because not everyone can own a weapon.
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Old 03-24-07, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Well, it's not a right today (which is what I meant to say). Because not everyone can own a weapon.


It's still a right. People have the right to life and liberty guaranteed as well. But not if they commit a heinous crime.
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Old 03-24-07, 12:37 AM
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Actually, we're getting off track a bit. I'm referring more to the "right" to conceal a weapon. Yes, you can own a weapon, and it can be considered a right, but concealing it is more of a privilege. But overall, I believe states and the fed have enacted laws to further hinder the right to bear arms and is a big difference than what it was a few hundred or so years ago. While we may think the Consitution gives us particular rights and that very may have been the case back when the US Constitution was written, but today, they appear to me to look like privileges.
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