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Handgun permits to be exempted from records requests under Virginia House vote

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would exempt concealed handgun permits from public record requests, a response to a New York newspaper's recent publication of an interactive map of concealed-carry permit holders' names and addresses.

“When a New York newspaper published an interactive map of concealed carry permit-holders on their website, people across the country were rightly shocked,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain, Harrisonburg Republican and the bill's sponsor. “That New York newspaper map treated law-abiding gun owners like criminals and, what’s worse, it put people in danger."

Shortly after the Connecticut school shootings in December, the Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., published an interactive map with names and addresses for concealed-carry permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties, prompting an outcry from gun owners and conservative blogs.

A strict gun control package passed by the New York state legislature last month requires an opt-out from a state database for permit holders who don't want their information to be made public.

The paper took down the map when the law took effect. Under the bill in Virginia, the list would still be available to clerks' offices, members of law enforcement, and other government officials entitled to access, but would not be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Mr. Obenshain's bill has already passed the Senate on a 39-1 vote, but since Tuesday's bill carried a House substitute, it will return to the Upper Chamber.

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