A growing number of state governments are tightening the reins on databases involving concealed weapon permits, reports the Society of Professional Journalists. Expers say the media are partially to blame for the closing of these records. While some journalists have used the records to produce investigative work, others have chosen to publish complete databases online, which can include what many consider to be private information of law-abiding citizens. Public outrage has resulted in support for many states' legislation aimed at closing these records.
Most involved seem to agree that it's not a First Amendment versus Second Amendment fight but rather a disagreement about whether the public is better served to have this type of information open or concealed. Former journalist and Missouri School of Journalism doctoral student Aimee Edmondson studied all 50 states in 2007 for a paper, “Packing heat: a gun battle between privacy and access.” At the time, 28 states explicitly stated that concealed carry permit databases were closed, and only five explicitly stated that they were open. She said things are constantly changing. Edmondson said courts “were all over the place” on the subject. The Roanoke Times last year put on its Web site a database with permit holders' names and addresses. Within 24 hours, it had many online comments from angry readers, and the newspaper removed the database.