March 21, 2013

Another View: Closing weapons permits to public view promotes safety

We would all be safer if no one knew who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

By Ronald Nicholas

Your editorial in opposition to a bill that would seal concealed weapons permit information reads, "Unfortunately, this bill has been cast as an issue of constitutional rights" ("Concealed carry permits are public documents," March 14).


Ronald Nicholas is a resident of Portland.

LD 345 is a public safety bill involving a reported 30,000 law-abiding Mainers who want to protect themselves and their families from criminals. The gun-control assertion is a red herring in an attempt to change public perception of Rep. Corey Wilson's public safety intent. Concealed-carry permit holders have undergone extensive background checks and completed specific training on their responsibilities as permit holders. The true danger is not the permit holder but allowing criminals to know who does and who does not have guns in their homes.

There are reportedly more than 480 exemptions or exceptions to freedom of information to licenses and/or permit information in Maine. Where is the outrage over those other exceptions? The proposed exemption from disclosure of personal information is as important to the safety and welfare of tens of thousands of Mainers and their neighbors as any of the other 480-plus exemptions.

Oversight is necessary. No doubt government makes mistakes. The real question is who should do the overseeing and why. You argue that "these records have been public for decades without incident." Why? Because there were no incidents involving permit holders that made "overseeing" that information necessary.

Apparently the Bangor Daily News didn't think it important enough for review until a New York newspaper published that information about its residents. Is this the oversight the Press Herald and ACLU claims is so critical? To my knowledge, not one of the shooters in the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine, Aurora or Virginia Tech had concealed-carry permits. The editorial is simply furthering a political agenda and not arguing for legitimate oversight.

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