Trigger happy

Legislators, particularly conservative legislators, claim to support government transparency.

Legislators, particularly conservative legislators, claim to be pro-Second Amendment rights.

Legislators, particularly all legislators, claim to support open meetings, when those claims don’t affect them personally.

So what’s with Nevada lawmakers’ actions on Assembly Bill 143 and Senate Bill 126? These are bills that would make secret the names of concealed weapons permit holders.

These legislators believe that the public’s potential knowledge of who is carrying hidden weapons creates a safety problem for people who carry guns.

This argument is laughable in its cowardice and disingenuity. It’s not about safety. It’s about hiding information for personal reasons from the public that the public has a right to know.

But let’s see if we can make any sense of the argument. Say an editor, the N&R’s Brian Burghart, for example, got a concealed weapon permit for the purpose of a story: See “The Gun Club,” July 6, 2006.

Then, what happens? Some legislator wants to rob him of more than his and his family’s quality of life or perhaps attack him for some editorial he’s written for calling said legislator a coward and a liar.

The argument lawmakers make suggests this angry legislator will go to the sheriff’s office in a particular county and obtain a copy of the CCW holders list. And then, when said legislator discovers Burghart’s name on the list, he or she is more likely to attack?

And now, let’s bring it to the real world. Legislators, in their effort to hide more public information, are suggesting that burglars or abusers are going to go to the sheriff’s office before they commit crimes and seek out the holders of concealed weapons permits? Not to be too sarcastic, but this seems like a pretty good clue for our esteemed sheriffs and deputies when seeking out the perpetrators of crimes.

On what planet is this argument supposed to make sense? That’s like saying hackers are cruising the neighborhoods looking for password-protected wireless systems, rather than just jumping on the computers on open wireless access points. Or that burglars prefer locked doors. Or that despotic government prefers an uninformed populace—just kidding.

When the RN&R obtained the list of Washoe County’s concealed weapons holders in August, it took the sheriff’s department 72 hours to process the request. And frankly, we were surprised at how quickly it came.

And then, even though we had a list of almost everyone in Washoe County who had a concealed weapons permit, we didn’t publish a story, because really, who cares who has a concealed weapon permit?

Assembly Bill 143 is not about protecting people, it’s really about government efforts to hide more information from the people who own it: the public. These legislators say government agencies can be trusted with the information, but the public can’t.

This argument is neither truthful nor logical. It’s pure hypocrisy.