Louisiana Criminalizes Releasing Private Information on Handgun Permit Holders

The Louisiana State Legislature has approved a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to publicly identify concealed handgun permit holders and permit applicants, even though those documents were already regarded as private information in the state.

The Louisiana House approved the measure 91-2 on June 5, while the Senate voted 34-2 in favor of the bill on June 6. A spokesman for Gov. Bobby Jindal said Jindal intends to sign it into law.

Violations will carry a $10,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, told the Associated Press that the proposal came in response to an online map produced by the Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., shortly after December's Newtown, Conn., school shooting that included a list of gun owners and their addresses.

Louisiana was already among 43 states and the District of Columbia that do not make data publicly available about who owns a gun or has received a state permit to carry a gun, according to a survey of state privacy laws by the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based organization that "uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable."

New York, Arkansas, Maine, and Mississippi have passed laws to protect the privacy of gun owners this year. New York included a provision exempting the names and addresses of gun permit holders from the Freedom of Information Act as part of its SAFE Act, the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group said.

Seven states consider information on individuals who have licenses to purchase, possess, or carry firearms public information: Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Iowa, Tennessee, North Carolina and West Virginia.

In March, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) included an amendment in the proposed Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S. 649) that protects gun owners nationwide from having their private gun ownership information released to the public

Brasso's amendment passed in the Senate in a 67-30 vote. The Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 has been introduced in the Senate, but has not been presented for a vote.

Barrasso's amendment would withhold 5-percent of federal Community Oriented Policing Services money from states and local governments that publicly release information on individuals that have licenses to purchase, possess, or carry firearms.