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Measure to close handgun records fails in Tenn. Senate

By The Associated Press
06.18.09

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A measure to close access to the names of people holding state permits to carry loaded handguns failed last night in the state Senate. Opponents called the vote a victory for open government.

The proposal sponsored by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville was defeated 14-13 in the Senate when it failed to get a majority vote. Norris didn't say whether he would try to revive the proposal, H.B. 0959, which passed the House 83-12 last month.

"This is not a gun bill, it's an open-records bill," said Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis. "This is about your open records and your open government. It has nothing to do with guns."

Democratic Sen. Joe Haynes of Goodlettsville said "it's unfair to the people in Tennessee to close these records. It's the wrong thing to do."

Sen. Roy Herron proposed a compromise amendment, but it too failed. His measure would have closed the database and stopped any postings on the Internet, but it still would have allowed some inspection of records. "I want the media, or anyone who will, to check the records," said the Dresden Democrat. "That's just the way it should be."

Norris' proposal would have allowed some exceptions, such as opening records in the case of a criminal investigation or if an individual's permit had been revoked.

Frank Gibson, who runs the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said the bill's defeat was a "victory for people who want open government."

"There were more reasons given on the Senate floor tonight for why the records should remain open than there were reasons for closing it," Gibson said.

State Safety Department records show nearly 1,200 people have lost their permits since 2005. Revocations are issued for felony convictions, while permits can be suspended for pending criminal charges or for court orders of protection.


Previous
Va. legislature passes bill blocking access to gun-permit database
Meanwhile, Tennessee lawmakers mull limiting access to similar records and making it a crime to publish information about gun ownership. 02.26.09

Related

Public barred from list of S.C. concealed-weapons permits

New law exempts identities of 61,300 gun owners from what's available through Freedom of Information Act. 04.18.08

Supporters of sealing Tenn. gun database seek very same records

AP study finds that list of more than 257,000 handgun-permit holders was recently requested by state Republican Party and direct mail contractor that has done work for GOP. 11.03.09

First Amendment, Second Amendment values jostle
By Allie Diffendal Panel examines newspaper's publication of Tennessee concealed-carry permit database, effect on gun owners. 11.04.09

Use First Amendment freedoms to debate Second Amendment issues
By Gene Policinski It's misguided to try to shut down debate on campuses and elsewhere over allowing students and staff to carry firearms for self-defense. 06.07.09

Open records

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