Don’t do criminals’ dirty work

Author’s Assembly bill would keep concealed-weapons permits secret

The author represents the 3rd District, which includes much of Butte County and all of Chico, in the California Assembly.

A few weeks ago, a newspaper in Westchester County, N.Y., published an online database listing the names and addresses of 44,000 citizens holding gun permits. The paper rationalized its action as defending the public’s right to know. But a right to know what? And what cost to the personal safety and liberty of law-abiding citizens?

While what the newspaper did was not illegal, it generated widespread condemnation from Americans concerned about privacy rights. In fact, the newspaper’s release of this information may have led to at least one attempted burglary of an elderly man’s gun safe. While the burglars failed to steal his weapons, it highlighted the problem of making such information public.

Giving thugs useful information of who has—and by extension who does not have—guns is the last thing we need at a time when many families feel unsafe in their own homes. It also puts victims of stalking, hate crimes, and domestic violence at increased risk from retribution from their perpetrators.

If the names and addresses of judges and peace officers who carry concealed weapons are shielded from public view, then all law-abiding permit holders deserve this same protection.

That is why I have authored Assembly Bill 134 to protect the privacy of citizens who apply for and carry concealed-weapons permits. This legislation would bar government from publicly releasing personally identifying information.

I do not believe we should compromise some rights to protect others. No one’s safety should be jeopardized just to score cheap political points for an anti-Second Amendment agenda. While we must find ways to reduce violence and do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, no one should be able to tar and feather law-abiding gun owners for exercising their constitutional rights.

AB 134 strikes the right balance between protecting the Second Amendment and maintaining the access that law enforcement needs to keep us safe. It would ensure that a similar situation that happened in New York would not happen here.

I will work hard with Democrats and Republicans alike to pass this common-sense measure. This bill not only affords important protections to responsible gun owners, but also serves to protect our neighbors, who might become targets of crime based upon the assumption that their homes are unprotected.

We simply do not need to make the lives of criminals easier by doing their dirty work for them. The Legislature and governor need to enact AB 134 before it is too late.