A while back, The Tennessean decided it would publish a database of people who held handgun carry permits. Oopsy ensued and they pulled it. Seems people didn’t like their private particulars published. Now, our state legislature is pushing a bill to seal those records:
The records of everyone licensed to carry a handgun in Tennessee would be sealed from public view by a proposal working its way through the legislature.
The bill, sponsored by state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and state Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect, would make Tennessee the 28th state in the nation to make secret its list of residents who have applied for or received a handgun-carry or concealed-carry permit. Several other states have similar bills in the works.
Such legislation keeps popping up in states where some idiot (like Christian Trejbal) decides to publish this stuff. Thanks to the Tennessean, that’s looking to be the case in our state soon. Tennessee’s law goes a bit further:
Tennessee takes its privacy plans a step further – threatening journalists with jail time if they publish information from the permit records…
Last month, an investigative television reporter in Nashville reported that the state of Tennessee had issued gun-carry permits to convicted felons, including a child rapist.
First I’ve heard of it. Anyone have a link? Continuing:
That’s because the Tennessee Department of Safety admitted that it accepted at face value an applicant’s word that he or she had not been convicted of a felony.
Really? Because they are required by law to do background checks. So, I find that odd. Anyway, on to the meat of the article:
Under proposed legislation slated to go before the Tennessee Senate today, reporter Phil Williams of WTVF-NewsChannel 5 would be subject to a Class E felony for airing that report. His punishment upon conviction? Up to several years in prison and a large fine.
You read that right: A handful of Tennessee legislators essentially are trying to use the Second Amendment to blast away at the First Amendment.
Forgive me for not being too sympathetic since the press has been using the first amendment to blast away the second for a while. I mean, there’s whole blogs dedicated to that subject. Continuing:
The gun-permit law appears to be a ploy to punish the media for the prior sins of two newspapers – The Tennessean in Nashville and The Roanoke Times in Virginia. Both published online searchable databases of gun-permit holders before quickly removing the data. In Roanoke’s case, it published the names and home addresses of law enforcement officers and judges.
It was a boneheaded decision made in the name of open government, but the First Amendment doesn’t just protect intelligent judgments made in newsrooms.
I concur and it is boneheaded. But I still have a great deal of trouble mustering up any bit of sympathy at all since daily newspapers are filled with editorials and screeds about how various things involving guns should be illegal and people should go to jail for them. You know, little technical things. When it comes to gun laws, the enthusiast acts at his peril.
Now, don’t get my wrong, the jail time thing is dumb. But when you have idiotic decisions made by editorial boards that threaten someone’s privacy and safety, people get a little snippy and react.