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Monday, April 1, 2013

Delegate Morrissey Compares Apples to Oranges In Opposition to CHP Privacy

As he did on the floor of the General Assembly when SB1335 was being considered, Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) writes in today's Richmond Times Dispatch that like permits to assemble or building permits, concealed handgun permit (CHP) information should be open to the public.  SB1335 protects the personal information of concealed handgun permit holders and beginning July 1, will no longer be available upon request from the local office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
For more than 220 years, the circuit courts in our commonwealth have adhered to one unbending, inflexible tenet: All public records are presumed to be opened to the public for scrutiny. Indeed, the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, set forth in Section 2.2-3700 of the Virginia Code, states as much and guarantees that citizens of the commonwealth as well as representatives of the media shall have full access to all public records held by public bodies, public officials and public employees — including circuit court clerks’ offices.

Now, for the first time in the history of the commonwealth, an otherwise public document — a concealed gun permit — shall be sealed and unavailable to the citizenry and representatives of the media. This development should cause all advocates of open government to cringe.
Morrissey laments that the proponents of the bill claimed that unlike building permits, CHPs involve a "fundamental right."  He still compares apples to oranges when he says that the fundamental right to free sometimes involve permits to assemble on public property and those are open to the public.

The difference Mr. Morrissey, those permits likely do not contain the personally identifying information (PII) of individuals who have protectives orders against ex-spouses or boyfriends, or the PII of individuals who have escaped their abusers and don't want to be found by them.

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