Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

Gun law backers want to keep permit records closed

April 6, 2006


— Backers of a new law allowing Kansans to carry concealed guns plan to seek legislation yet this year to keep applications for gun permits and the identities of permit holders secret.

Concerns about privacy arose during the first meeting Wednesday of a task force Atty. Gen. Phill Kline formed to help his office draft regulations. Those regulations will cover items not typically spelled out in state law, such as what's on application forms and what kind of signs business owners must post if they don't want hidden guns on their premises.

The law, which takes effect July 1, doesn't say whether applications for concealed carry permits, information collected on applicants from sheriffs or lists of permit holders must be open to the public. It was among several oversights identified by task force members during their 2 1/2-hour meeting.

The Legislature is taking its annual spring break but plans to reconvene April 26 to wrap up the business of its regular session.

"We believe it is important to keep citizen privacy foremost in this," Kline said. "Law enforcement will know if somebody is carrying, but we believe that beyond that, it should not be known."

But Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Assn., criticized the proposal to keep the records closed, saying keeping such records open will allow public oversight to guard the integrity of the permitting process.

"As a state, we believe the public has a need to know all kinds of information," he said. "Why should this be different?"

The law will take effect because legislators last month overrode Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of a concealed guns bill, her second in two years. The law permits Kansans to obtain four-year permits from the attorney general's office if they are American citizens, 21 or older and have completed eight hours of training. Kline's office must begin issuing permits by Jan. 1, 2007.

Concealed guns still will be banned in some locations, including bars, taverns, schools, courthouses, churches and day care centers. Also, property owners can declare hidden weapons off limits by posting signs.

The law bars people from obtaining permits if they've been convicted of a felony or been committed for a mental illness within the previous five years. The state doesn't keep a central registry of who's been committed, so task force members also plan to seek legislation establishing one.

"I think there's always room for improvement, regardless of the nature of the legislation," said sponsoring Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, a task force member. "I think we found several areas that could use a little refinement."

Neighboring Missouri's concealed carry law, enacted in 2003, contains a provision that keeps applications and permit holders' records private. Journey and others believe that because the Kansas law is silent on the issue, the state's Open Records Act would require such documents to be available to the public.

Rep. L. Candy Ruff, D-Leavenworth, a task force member, noted that she began pushing concealed gun legislation because rape victims asked her to do so. She said criminals and stalkers shouldn't know that their victims and targets have concealed weapons.

"This is very different," Ruff said. "I just think that this is a privacy issue. I've come too far as an advocate for these women to give it up now."

Anstaett noted that backers of the concealed gun law often accused opponents of resorting to scare tactics by expressing concern that such a law would increase gun violence. He said in trying to keep records closed, those backers of the law are doing the same thing.

Nor, Anstaett said, would it be acceptable to limit access to the records to news organizations.

"These records should be available to the public and the press," he said.

Meanwhile, five subcommittees will tackle drafting new regulations to handle more technical questions, such as what an application form should look like. People seeking permits will file their applications with local sheriffs, who will forward them to the attorney general's office, along with the person's fingerprints.

"Our timeline on some of this is pretty darn short," Kline told task force members.


xenophonschild 12 years, 2 months ago

Why? We want to know who these pathetic whackos are. Reminds me of a bunch of cackling old women gossiping about their clothing accessories - shoes, jewelry, belts, etc. - when it escapes them entirely that they're old and none of them will ever attract another man again in life. These gun lollipops froth over the intricacies of their weapons - firepower, foot pounds, rim-fire, automatics vs. revolvers, ad nauseum - when it escapes them entirely that they are not the Lone Ranger, they will never stop or prevent a crime in their lifetimes. The things some people do to hide from the fact that they're small and insignificant, and they will die some day.

bettie 12 years, 2 months ago

i'd just like to know when kline began valuing privacy. how is having a concealed carry permit more private than having had an abortion? he doesn't seem to think privacy is important at all in the latter case.

Moderateguy 12 years, 2 months ago

So Xeno, you would have no problem with your entire driving record being online, as well as your address and phone number? Maybe you're worried about your safety because of a restraining order, and don't want a particular person to know where you live. The info. is nobody's business.

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago

Let's look at this in the opposite way - keep the records closed so the criminals don't know who DOESN"T have guns. Citizens without guns would be the target of burglars.

I wonder how many property owners, including businesses, will post signs forbidding guns on premises?

Todd 12 years, 2 months ago

You don't have to own/carry a gun to have a permit.

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

I think xenophonschild provides the best privacy argument anyone could make. The information shouldn't be public, if only to keep people like him from hassling those who choose to have a ccw permit.

You know, any public record online serves as a marker for where you are, and if you're trying not to be found (say, by an abusive ex), I think you have the right to be able to apply for that permit without the person you've got a restraining order against being able to know that you are walking around armed or not, or being able to use the records to find out that you've relocated to Douglas County to get away from him. In that case, it's a safety issue, same as having driver's license information, property tax data, or any other records online. I don't really dig on any of those being public record either.

Finally, bettie, I guess I ask the question the other way around. Why are so many people who got righteously outraged over Kline's action with regard to abortion records (and, for the record, I am one of them) so complacent about the records of ccw permits being public knowledge for anyone with a computer and some time to look up? Seems to me that if we were hacked off about that, we should be hacked off about this, and vice versa, because privacy is privacy, whether it relates to my medical history, my gun ownwership, or the value of my house.

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