South Carolina is the latest in a growing number of states to make the names of people who have a license to carry a concealed weapon a secret, reports USA Today. Five other states might not be far behind. Bills that would make concealed gun permit records confidential have been introduced in eight other states this year. Concealed-weapon records always have been confidential in many states, said Colin Weaver of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The group has counted 27 states where the records are confidential.
The trend of states closing records intensified last year, partly in response to media outlets in Virginia, Florida, and elsewhere posting those records online, said South Carolina state Rep. Michael Pitts, a Republican. The degree to which these records are open or closed varies from state to state, says the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. For example, the Texas database is closed, but a person can pay a fee and find out whether a specific individual is a licensed gun owner. Gene Policinski of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University sees the move to close concealed-weapons permit records as part of a larger trend of government citing safety and security reasons for closing a variety of records.