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Friday, June 7, 2013

Virginia GOP Requests CHP Data Before Obenshain Bill Becomes Law

Nothing really new here.  For years before the Roanoke Times caused this to be an issue, candidates in Virginia (usually Republicans) would submit a FOIA request to the State Police to get the list of Virginia Concealed Carry Permit (CHP) holders to use for targeted mailings.  It is likely some of the various gun rights groups in Virginia (there are three including VSSA) would do the same thing (I know of at least one group that sent a mailing to me in the name in which my permit is issued, not the name in which I am commonly known). 

Then in 2007, the Roanoke Times, being too cute by half trying to make a point about open government, published the complete list on their web site, thus violating the privacy of over 100,000 Virginians, including some with protective orders or law enforcement, and putting their lives at risk.  After a firestorm of criticism, the paper took down the list.  The Attorney General at the time (Bob McDonnell) issued an opinioin stating that the information could not be released by the state police.  The information however was still available to enterprising individuals upon request at individual circuit court offices, which issue the permits. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star would publish names of those issued permits but no other information.  Activists have long disapproved of this practice.

This year, after a long battle, the General Assembly passed legislation preventing the information from being released, effective July 1.  Ryan Nobles with NBC 12 reports today that the Republican Party of Virginia has requested by letter, the information for the state's approximate 250,000 CHP holders for use during this year's election. The GOP sent letters to all of the Commonwealth's circuit court offices. Nobles quotes the party spokesman:
"Virginia Republicans have a proud history of defending the Second Amendment, and we are working actively to ensure that voters who are concerned about Second Amendment issues stay informed about Democratic efforts to limit our right to keep and bear arms," said RPV spokesman Garren Shipley.
Nobles reports that not everyone is pleased with this and one permit holder her found out has asked a judge to deny the request.  That interview will be featured at 11:00 PM tonight.

1 comment:

Rick said...

I sent an email to my local Circuit Clerk requesting that he deny the FOIA request that was sent by the Republicans this year, specifically citing the new law that was passed by the General Assembly, which goes into effect on 1 July 2013. I haven't yet received a response.

Responses have been received from several other counties indicating that they will not provide the records that were requested, but that the Republican Party is welcome to stop by the courthouse to copy the records manually.

More details on the effort here: