Lawmaker Asks to Keep NH Gun Records Private

Guns hung up on wall

Under House Bill 1379 proposed by Rep. Jeff Goley, gun records could not be disclosed under the right-to-know law.  The proposal seeks to keep private the names and addresses of people with concealed weapon permits in NH. The Bill, along with several other right-to-know bills, will be reviewed by the House Judiciary Committee at a work session on February 11, 2014.

At a recent public hearing, Rep. Jeff Goley, D-Manchester, said that the impetus for the Bill is to prevent a situation similar to that which occurred following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, where Westchester N.Y. Journal News published the names and addresses of people in the area who held concealed weapons permits. The newspaper apparently obtained the information through a right-to-know request.

“I do not want that to happen in New Hampshire,” Goley told the committee. “One of the biggest concerns is publishing a list now gives those who want illegal access to firearms addresses to where these firearms are and have the possibility of putting more illegal guns out on the streets.”

Goley said that he believes that such information is currently confidential under existing laws. But, the proposed Bill would add firearm records to right-to-know law exemptions.  Police and government agencies would still have access to the information.

The bill was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union in New Hampshire.“There should not be categorical exemptions under the right-to-know law absent a compelling privacy interest that outweighs the compelling interest in ensuring that the public is able to openly view the government’s actions,” said ACLU’s attorney, Gillis Bissonnette.  The right-to-know law already contains privacy protections allowing a person’s address to be redacted from license information, he noted.

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