The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


February 19, 2014

No secrets

Bill to exempt concealed carry permits is First Amendment issue

A bill submitted to the West Virginia Legislature would change the state’s concealed weapon carry law to exempt records of permit holders from the public record.

The bill, with bipartisan support, is being co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader John Unger, Senate President Jeff Kessler and fellow Democratic Sens. Sam Cann, Donald Cookman and Rocky Fitzsimmons.

Republican co-sponsors are Sens. Evan Jenkins and David Nohe.

The bill would make just one change in current law, but we think it is a significant one.

Putting the names of legal concealed-weapons permit holders behind a secret wall, we believe, goes against the transparency we expect from government.

Don’t mistake us: This isn’t a Second Amendment issue, but a First Amendment issue.

The bill’s purpose is to protect the confidentiality of CCW applicants and renewal applicants as well as holders of weapons permits. It would exempt these records from Freedom of Information Act requests.

The bill would still allow law enforcement to access the list of just who has a concealed weapons license in West Virginia.

But it is our belief that the public’s right to know shall not be infringed.

By not standing up for transparency in this instance, we set a stage where the Legislature may decide other information that is now openly available to citizens of West Virginia also needs to be made secret.

Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association, says lawmakers should not be allowed to make government records secret. He is leading the fight against the National Rifle Association-backed legislation.

We think his stand is the correct one.

This is not a case of denying qualified West Virginians, who have passed background checks and had the requisite training, to carry a concealed weapon.

It is a case of denying to the citizens of West Virginia access to important public information.

It is our belief that this information should remain in the sunlight of the public domain, and not hidden behind an unnecessary and unneeded veil of secrecy.

We urge West Virginians to contact their legislators to make their thoughts on this issue known. Whether in support, or, as we believe is right, in opposition.

Text Only
  • Primary care

    DHHR program weans folks away from the ER

    July 24, 2014

  • Rain? What Rain?

    Community still enjoys auto fair despite uncooperative weather

    July 23, 2014

  • Do tell

    It’s hard to keep a secret in today’s here-a-camera, there-a-camera, everywhere-a-camera world. Whatever one does that is embarrassing is immediately posted on YouTube, Facebook or other social media of choice.

    July 22, 2014

  • Juvenile justice

    West Virginia nearly doubled the rate it sent youths to juvenile facilities from 1997 to 2011, in contrast to declining rates of youthful incarceration elsewhere in the United States.

    July 20, 2014

  • Thumbs — Saturday, July 19, 2014

    July 19, 2014

  • Do something

     Johnstown police have charged three men in the brutal murder early Sunday of a city academy student.

    July 18, 2014

  • Showcase

    For White Sulphur Springs, there’s hardly enough time to catch a breath.

    July 17, 2014

  • Bon appetit

    Agriculture and farm products can help diversify state economy

    July 16, 2014

  • Generous

    Outsiders can say what they will about West Virginians — but they can’t say we’re stingy.
    Time after time after time, we band together to help our neighbors out of a jam, aid someone down on their luck or otherwise in a bad way.

    July 15, 2014

  • Reminder

    Study points out old, new problems with W.Va. roads

    July 13, 2014