Louisiana legislators are taking another hard look at a bill that would make it illegal for journalists, bloggers, or anybody else to publish the names of people who are applying for concealed handgun permits. The House refused to approve of the bill, opting to send it to a six-person compromise committee instead.
Critics of the bill have argued that it violates First Amendment rights by making it a misdemeanor to publish factual information.
Rep. Jeff Thompson (R), the bill’s sponsor, says that publishing information about gun owners endangers the gun owners because it makes them targets for criminals. Under that logic, it should also be illegal to publish information about people who own nice houses or own expensive cars.
Though, Thompson may not be able to get his wish after the bill makes its way through the compromise committee.
One of the changes he hopes to make is to tweak the language so that people can publish the name of a permit holder if he is arrested for a felony involving a firearm. Thompson stated, "I want to maintain the integrity of the information, especially the addresses and the names of those applying for permits. I want to make sure that we get the language right. I want to do it right, not in a hurry."
Under the bill’s current wording, violators will be charged with a misdemeanor, subject to up to $10,000 in fines and up to six months in prison. The bill also presents odd implications across state lines. What happens if people from another state publish information about Louisiana gun owners? Could LA citizens get around the law simply by crossing state lines before hitting the digital publish button?
These are questions that the compromise committee will have to consider. Thompson said that he expects to finish editing the language by next week, which will give the compromise committee until June 6 when the legislative session ends.
Source: The Republic