Conn. Lawmaker Wants State's Handgun Permit Records Made Public; Courant Reporter Lets Him Skate on Intimidation Factor

Currently in Connecticut, unlike New York, handgun permit records can't be made public. Nutmeg State legislator Stephen D. Dargan, a Democrat from West Haven and co-chairman of the legislature's public safety committee, wants to change that. Borrowing from some of the specious reasoning used by Gannett's White Plains, New York-based Journal News to justify publishing an interactive map of two counties' pistol permit holders, he wants to make handgun permit information to be publicly accessible.

At the Hartford Courant (HT NewsMax), Jon Lender failed to deal with the issue of endangering non-permit holders because of the increased likelihood that they will be identifiable as "soft targets" (unless they happen to own rifles, for which permits are not required), and also didn't directly look into the possibility that Dargan has an additional motive -- intimidation of current and potential permit holders (bolds are mine throughout this post):


The names and addresses of about 170,000 handgun permit holders in Connecticut, now kept confidential by law, could be made public under a proposed bill that pits gun owners against would-be reformers in the aftermath of the Dec. 14 Newtown school massacre.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Stephen D. Dargan, D-West Haven, co-chairman of the legislature's public safety committee, would make public the names and addresses of permit holders under Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act — and would reverse lawmakers' decision to protect that personal information from disclosure nearly two decades ago.

... the central question is whether the public interest in knowing how many guns are spread through communities is outweighed by the privacy rights of people exercising their constitutional right to own guns.

"Most things are FOI-able now," Dargan said in an interview Thursday. "Go to the local city clerk's office and you can find out where Steve Dargan owns property," as well as what cars a person owns and perhaps some of his debts. "I don't know why a responsible gun owner is worried about whether a permit for a revolver is FOI-able or not."

Please, Steve. How stupid do you think we are? That's the classic "If you've got nothing to hide, you shouldn't worry" argument statists routinely used to curb individual freedoms.

"FOI-able" permits identify homes from which guns can be stolen. But in my opinion more importantly, listing permit holders also identifies who doesn't have them, making non-holders more vulnerable to theft, criminal assault, and violent attacks.

Those who feel they must have a gun to defend themselves will think twice about acquiring a handgun legally and permitting it. Just one reason: If a newspaper undertakes the same effort as the Journal News, which is something Dargan must want to see happen, any prospective or current employer will be able to find out if they own a gun. Given that some individuals and many institutions are instinctively and illogically hoplophobic, this could adversely affect one's career. I wonder how Yale would feel if it learned that certain professors own guns?

Continuing, the Courant's Lender did find a sane law professor (meaning that he obviously didn't go to an Ivy League source) who framed the issue using an argument that should be employed against Dargan's proposal, as well as against states like New York which currently allow permit disclosure, and shouldn't:

An authority on constitutional law, Gary L. Rose, chairman of the Department of Government and Politics at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, said in a Thursday interview that opponents of the disclosure bill might have the upper hand.

Rose disagreed with Dargan's reasoning that disclosing handgun permit holders' information is like releasing public records related to home ownership and motor vehicles. Gun ownership is different; it is a right protected by the Second Amendment — and thus, he said, is more in the category of other guarantees in the Bill of Rights such as freedom of religion and association.

The right to practice one's religion freely and with privacy is guaranteed, and such a Constitutional privacy guarantee should extend to the right to bear arms, Rose said.

"I think that what the lawmaker is attempting to do here can be viewed as an assault on the right to privacy," Rose said. "If we can start publicizing who owns guns, then what's next — lists of who practices certain religious freedoms and what organizations they belong to?"

Wonderfully stated, professor.

The fact that New York's gun permits are "FOI-able" may have been a legislative oversight. The same can't be said of Dargan's proposal. It's a conscious effort to identify, intimidate, and control.

While the left has made a virtual commandment out of the right to privacy if a mother wants to kill her pre-born baby, it seems to have almost no respect for privacy in other matters.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.