The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

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.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • New thinking

    Best way to address past financial failings is to look for alternatives

    April 17, 2014

  • Continuing the fight

    Solutions for drug war may need to be as tough as the problem

    April 16, 2014

  • Take me home

    You can go home again.

    April 15, 2014

  • Team work

    There is no doubt that last week’s announcement by the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority of plans for a 500-acre Mega-Site development is one of the most visionary ideas we have seen in southern West Virginia.

    April 13, 2014

  • Thumbs — Saturday, April 12, 2014

    April 12, 2014

  • Concord

    Impressive achievements in higher education reflected in quality of finalists for president

    April 10, 2014

  • Service

    In West Virginia, we often measure our “wealth” by all the things we can generally do without.

    April 9, 2014

  • Nutrition

    How much can we trust government to advise us on food?

    April 8, 2014

  • War on miners

    The federal government in the form of the Department of Health and Human Services has decided to cut funding for coal miners suffering from black lung disease by 35 percent.

    April 6, 2014

  • Thumbs — Saturday, April 5, 2014

    April 5, 2014

AP Video