Bill would limit public information
By Rick Longley and Ben van der Meer
Tri-County Newspapers and Appeal-Democrat
Assemblyman Dan Logue introduced a bill this week to limit how much public information could be released about people with concealed weapons permits.
Assembly Bill 134 would prevent addresses, phone numbers and other contact information on permit holders from being released to the public.
"The bottom line is we have some safety issues here," said Logue, R-Loma Rica.
He said he was motivated to co-author the bill with Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa, after hearing about a newspaper in New York state that published an online map of permit holders in two counties, including their names and addresses.
"It puts a bullseye on different elements of society," he said.
Logue said his bill wasn't intended to prevent media outlets from publishing the information as much as it was to stop a person from getting the address of someone they were stalking who had a permit.
Logue said the bill would not bar law enforcement, courts or public defenders from acquiring such information. Names of permit holders would also still be publicly available.
Glenn County law enforcement officials said Thursday they are not familiar with the bill and have not had a chance to read it.
Willows Police Chief Jason Dahl said the Sheriff's Office issues concealed weapons permits for the city.
"If we stop someone, and they have it on file, we'll run a check and know about it," Dahl said.
Otherwise, he said there are good points on both sides about whether to limit public access to this information.
Orland Chief J.C. Tolle also said he had not read the bill and could not comment until doing further study.
Undersheriff Richard Warren said, he too, was not familar with the bill.
"I always believed we are a government agency and had to be transparent," Warren said. "But I appreciate protecting a person's right to privacy as well."
He said Glenn County has about 200 concealed weapons permits issued.
Warren added the news media or public can make public records requests, and his office does its best to comply.
Regarding the weapons permits, he said some things are released and others are not based on what the County Counsel's office recommends.
A proponent for public access and media rights questioned whether such a law is needed.
"It sounds to me like a completely redundant bill," said Peter Scheer, executive director of the 1st Amendment Coalition based in San Rafael.
Scheer said he believes agencies recording concealed weapons permit data, such as county sheriff's offices, already have leeway to restrict how much of that data they provide the public.
A better approach, Scheer said, would be to bar such information from being published online, where it would be more easily accessible to large numbers of people.
Making such information public punishes people who are acting lawfully, Logue said.
"To do it without their permission is dangerous for them and their neighbors," he said. "The best government is self government."