Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal (R), has just signed into law a highly controversial bill that would make it illegal for journalists or anybody else to publish the name of a concealed handgun permit holder. Violators would be subject to up to $10,000 in fines and up to six months in jail.
Jindal argued that the law would protect "the privacy of law-abiding gun owners.”
Rep. Jeff Thompson (R), the bill’s sponsor, drafted the bill in response to a list published by a New York newspaper that gave the names and addresses of gun owners and their addresses. The purpose of the bill was to prevent similar lists that might turn gun owners into targets.
Opponents of the bill argue that it violates the First Amendment protections on free speech. This bill is comparable to another law that makes it illegal to publish the names of minors that are involved in a crime. Is protecting children from public scorn in the same ballpark as protecting gun owners from public political discourse?
While it is certainly admirable that Jindal and Thompson are attempting to protect the privacy of gun owners, making it illegal to publish gun owners’ identities opens up a dangerous can of worms.
If they truly do not want people to be targeted, wouldn’t it also be logical to draft a bill making it illegal to publish the name and address of single women? Why not pass a bill that makes it illegal to disclose information about homes with children or the addresses of people who make more than $100,000 a year? Rich families and single-member households would make excellent targets for robbers, so it is perfectly reasonable to extend that same level of protection to these potentially vulnerable groups.
Additionally, out-of-staters can publish information about Louisiana gun owners as much as they want. Could a Louisiana citizen circumvent the law by driving over the border, posting the information in a coffee shop with free wi-fi, and then drive back? The internet does not have borders, so restricting the free speech of Louisiana citizens might not do much to stop the dissemination of information.
Do you think that Thompson’s bill goes too far to fix a problem that is not really there, or is this bill spot-on?
Source: Shreveport Times