Curious about whether your neighbor is armed? Wondering if local officials are illegally doling out gun permits to convicted felons? It may be impossible to find out, unless you live in one of a small and shrinking group of states, reports Stateline. Lawmakers in most states sealed such records in past years. This year, many others are rushing to join those ranks, spurred by a suburban New York newspaper's publication of names and addresses of handgun permit holders. Critics said the newspaper infringed on gun owners' privacy and put them in the crosshairs of burglars looking to swipe and swap legally owned weapons.
“Guns, pharmaceuticals and electronics are the primary things burglars are looking for when they rob a house,” says William Lamberth, a Nashville prosecutor-turned Republican state representative who is pushing a bill in Tennessee that would seal personal information about those permitted to carry handguns. “Once the list is out there, there's no way to get it back in the bottle. Technology is the game changer here.” Four states have blocked public access to gun records in the last two months. Once the new state laws go into effect, only five states — Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia — will give the public unfettered access to information about those who hold concealed carry permits, and similar legislation is pending in most of those states. California and Ohio provide the data with exceptions.