TN bill would make gun permit records private - WSMV Channel 4

TN bill would make gun permit records private

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Some Tennessee lawmakers want to seal information about the hundreds of thousands of people in the state who have a permit to carry a handgun.

While lawmakers tried to take the same action in Tennessee in 2009, leaders say the Legislature now has a different makeup and they operate in a different climate.

More than 380,000 in Tennessee have handgun carry permits, and some believe keeping these records open is putting thousands of legal gun owners at risk.

"All you do is, if you make the database publicly available, is to create shopping lists for criminals," said John Harris, with the Tennessee Firearms Association.

This has been an issue for years, ever since the Memphis Commercial Appeal first posted a searchable database about permit holders on its website.

But lawmakers say it's gone farther than that now a New York newspaper recently published an searchable interactive map, pinpointing home addresses for every permit holder in some New York counties.

That is why Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, has a bill that would close all gun permit records unless needed by law enforcement for investigations.

"These are people that have done nothing wrong and have gone above and beyond to get a gun carry permit for their safety, and to create a list that victimizes them and puts their information and address out there is just reprehensible," Lamberth said.

A similar bill was sailing through the Legislature when questions about closing the records for fundraising purposes put the brakes on it.

Other concerns also arose, including several occasions when the media found instances of people holding handgun carry permits when they shouldn't

A Channel 4 I-Team report exposed permit holders who had orders of protection against them or had been convicted of domestic abuse.

However, supporters of the plan to seal the records say keeping them public could make law-abiding citizens targets.

"That's not enough of a reason in our opinion to keep the records open and put these people at risk," Harris said.

Open-government supporters are hoping to speak with Lamberth about the bill. They feel closing the records won't make the public any safer, nor will it make handgun carry permit holders any safer.

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