03/27/13 — House: Permit records will be secret

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House: Permit records will be secret

By From Staff And Wire Reports
Published in News on March 27, 2013 1:46 PM

RALEIGH -- The North Carolina House has voted to bar the public from reviewing the detailed records of concealed weapons and pistol permit holders issued.

The House voted 97-20 on Tuesday in favor of making confidential lists of people purchasing pistols or who received concealed weapons permits from local sheriffs and their identifying information. The information is currently a public record, meaning anyone can access them.

State Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, is one of bill's primary sponsors.

He explained that his primary motivation for helping to introduce the bill was to protect gun owners.

"I think it's a good piece of legislation. It went through committee with no opposition and had only a little opposition on the floor," he said. "It protects gun owners from criminals who would use that information and from other people who would do them harm.

"This is a big win for gun owners and privacy and property rights."

Proponents of the bill also argue that by keeping it a mystery who has guns and who does not also keeps potential thieves from targeting those homes they know to not have a weapon inside. In addition, some gun rights advocates also have been angry over media outlets obtaining permit records and posting some or all of the information.

However, Bell said, the bill would still make sure that information stays readily available to law enforcement agencies.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where similar legislation has been considered.

Originally, the House bill had also included a provision that would allow those with permits to carry concealed weapons to do so in restaurants and bars. That provision has been pulled out, but is likely to be included in a more comprehensive bill expected to be filed in the coming weeks.

The reasoning for that provision, Bell explained, was primarily to allow owners and employees the ability to protect themselves, particularly around closing time when handling large amounts of money. But he said, if people have conceal/carry permits, then there should be few limits as to where they can exercise that right.

"If they have gone through the process and have the permit, they should be allowed to carry their gun," he said.