Rupert Howell 2/26/13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rupert Howell

Bill echoes of days past when secrecy ruled

A proposal to ban publication of names and address of Mississippi’s gun carry permit holders is expected to sail through the Senate this week.

It’s a shame—not that those names won’t be published, but that our Mississippi lawmakers are letting what one liberal New York editor did affect Mississippi’s  open records law.

Believe me—no editor or publisher in Mississippi was going to publish that list. Not one. But, under pressure from a group of probably well-intentioned citizens, we are essentially allowing the government to issue “secret permits.”

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Last week I thought a conservative talk-show host was going to hyperventilate over a senate committee pausing a minute to study the bill’s contents to try and understand both sides of the issue. The bill had already passed in the House with little or no opposition. It reminded me of a lynch mob mentality, but the tactics apparently worked.

Who’s going to be entitled to see the list? Law enforcement? People who make over $100,000 annually? Those politically well connected?

The records don’t belong to the media, they belong to the public.

But assuming the law passes, the public will not know if a neighbor walking the street with a sidearm is licensed or just some loony showing off firepower.

One would be hard pressed to find a home in our state that doesn’t have a firearm within. Oh sure, there are exceptions, but it’s our right to protect ourselves in our homes and vehicles without having to purchase a carry license and many do.

Please understand that the argument is not about newspapers or other forms of media wanting to publish a list of names of gun owners with open carry permits.

The argument is about government licensing the public and then withholding that information from the public.

Shades of the old State Sovereignty Commission and that’s really scary.