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I'm sure some have seen this already, but in case not...

Today is the start of Sunshine Week, the annual week in which we reflect on the importance of open government and public records. To mark the occasion, I want to take you on an excursion into freedom of information land. We're going to find out who in the New River Valley has a concealed handgun permit.

I can hear the shocked indignation of gun-toters already: It's nobody's business but mine if I want to pack heat.

Au contraire. Because the government handles the permitting, it is everyone's business.

There are good reasons the records are open to public scrutiny. People might like to know if their neighbors carry. Parents might like to know if a member of the car pool has a pistol in the glove box. Employers might like to know if employees are bringing weapons to the office.

And all Virginians have a stake in checking that their government is not making mistakes, for example, by issuing permits to convicted felons. Open records allow the media or any private citizen to check.

This is not about being for or against guns. There are plenty of reasons people choose to carry weapons: fear of a violent ex-lover, concern about criminals or worry that the king of England might try to get into your house. There are plenty of reasons to question the wisdom of widespread gun ownership, too.

But that's a debate for another time.

To illustrate the open government process, I set out to acquire permit lists for the New River Valley.

I first called the local circuit court clerks charged with overseeing permitting. They were helpful, as far as they could be.

Only Radford and Floyd County said they could produce a list. Giles County maintains an unofficial list but could not produce an official one. Montgomery and Pulaski counties had squat. The best they could do is determine if a specific individual had a permit.

None of that conflicts with the law. The records must be available but not necessarily in the format citizens want.

Fortunately, one of the clerks tipped me off to another avenue. The state police, she thought, maintained a master list.

I called Richmond and found out that yes, they did have a statewide list. Bingo!

Then another lesson of open government hit. A copy would cost more than $100.

Any Virginian can show up at a government office and request a public document. If it is something simple such as a council agenda, officials usually gladly duplicate it, maybe charging a few cents for the photocopy.

If it is something more complicated, government agencies may charge for the time and effort to prepare the records. In the case of concealed handgun permits, state police need to weed through them to cut out some personal data, which takes staff time.

A state that eagerly puts sex offender data online complete with an interactive map could easily do the same with gun permits, but it does not.

I bit the bullet and placed my order, saving the paper a few bucks by taking a Jan. 18 list officials had recently prepared for someone else.

The compact disc arrived last week. Names, addresses, issue and expiration dates.

About 2 percent of Virginians, 135,789 of us, have concealed handgun permits. In the New River Valley, 3,826 people have them, a slightly higher rate than in the rest of the state.

I immediately started checking some names. Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, no permit. Pulaski County Supervisor Dean Pratt, packing. Radford University President Penelope Kyle, no permit. Giles County Supervisor Paul "Chappy" Baker, packing.

Some of the names proved tricky. Dana Dwayne Munsey of Pembroke has a permit. Is that Mayor Munsey? Standoffish town officials wouldn't provide a middle name or address for confirmation, and the listed phone number is disconnected.

The list sports a dismayingly large number of typos for an official registry -- four different spellings of "Christiansburg," for example.

Local celebrities generally don't carry, but at least a half dozen elected officials do. I'll leave it to readers to figure out which ones so you can avoid annoying them at meetings.

As a Sunshine Week gift, The Roanoke Times has placed the entire database, mistakes and all, online at www.roanoke.com/gunpermits. You can search to find out if neighbors, carpool partners, elected officials or anyone else has permission to carry a gun.

Open government laws arose from distrust of government. They guarantee citizens can watch what government does in their names, including issuing gun permits.

Christian Trejbal is an editorial writer for The Roanoke Times based in the New River Valley bureau in Christiansburg.
The comments are interesting. Linky
 

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Thats been the source of _much_ anger amongst many including Virginans, and myself who was also listed there in.
Thanksfully that databse was taken off line by the Roanoke Times as they found themselves having broken VA law...not to mention common damn sense.

Very many people, men and women, have and do request a concealed hadgun permit for reasons of immediate personal safety as they hide themselves from those who are actively seeking them out to do harm toward them.
Abusive husbands, former crazy bitch females, gangs, past business associates, foreign governments, and more...

VA State Law said:
§ 19.2-11.2. Crime victim's right to nondisclosure of certain information; exceptions; testimonial privilege.
The writer was a complete asshole to post that registry online even as the information there in was public and costs only $100 to secure via FOIA request.
he very easily could have made his point succesfully just with his words and did not at all have to make that database public.

Lets hope no one gets hurt as a result of this unthinking action.
Unfortunately this did get the attention of criminal types who do have internet acces like the rest of us; http://www.totse.com/bbs/Forum7/HTML/027351.html

- Janq
 

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I love the general anti-gun overtone of the entire article also. I'm all for freedom of information and of the press, but with these rights comes a certain level of maturity and responsibility. Unfortunately all too many limp wristed mouth breathers find their way into a press pass to merely use it as a soapbox for private agendas.

Hope s/he gets sued into a refridgerator box home....
 

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Wow. That was a deplorable thing to do to law abiding citizens. I hope the author is fired.
 

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This guy is in so much trouble...and his name is now mud.

As well same goes for the newspaper which seems to honestly have had no clue doing a story like this revealing peoeples heretofor information and private holdings might could be stupid and troublesome.
Concealed-carry list removed from Roanoke.com
http://www.roanoke.com/news/breaking/wb/108384

..."It also unfairly compared law-abiding gun owners to sex offenders, he said, by noting that “a state that eagerly puts sex offender data online complete with an interactive map could easily do the same with gun permits, but it does not.”

As Dale Hawley wrote on the newspaper’s message board, such a comment ignores the fact that people who apply to carry a concealed weapon for legitimate reasons of self-protection must undergo background checks to ensure they have no criminal record.

“That you don’t understand this is, at best, terrible ignorance and at worst smacks of prejudice and yellow journalism,” Hawley wrote on the online forum, which had generated more than 300 comments by midday Monday.

Another poster wrote: “I’ve moved twice to get away from a violent ex. Now I have to move again. I really appreciate you publishing my address. Gee, thanks.”

Van Cleave said he has received more than 500 angry calls and e-mails, including two from state legislators.

Past gun-related controversies have been “like a firecracker” by comparison, he said. “This one is like a thermonuclear bomb."
No bomb at editorial writer's home
By Donna Alvis-Banks and Paul Dellinger
UPDATED 4:18 p.m. [Today!]
http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/breaking/wb/108505

The problem here is that young & younger people now days seem to think nothing about putting their ass and everythign else up on the internets.
They have little if any problem posting their real name,phone, address, employer, eployment e-mail addy, and more on the internet for anyone and everyone to view. I bet dude looked at this as sme within the context of his supposed "open govt." subject pretext. What he didn't keep in mind though is not everyone wants to be this way, even if govt. agencies quietly will sell your info for $100 and some time spent filling out a form. Thats not the same as posting your crap up on a website to be archived by Google and forever available to any moron with fingers and an internet connection.

Considering the subject matter and intent of his article series the writer and the editor both should have known better.
Thats not to mention his analogizing CCW holders to rapists and sexual predators...

- Janq
 

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man this is a tough one for me. im really conflicted on this topic. on the one hand, yeah it would suck to have your name and address posted on a news website. but on the other hand, it IS public information. all you have to do is grab a phone book for that. and the list of CCWL owners is also public. yeah you waived the $100 processing fee for everyone but anyone who would have been actively trying to track down firearms would have used this avenue already. $100 is not a big deal.

unless of coarse you restricted your phone number and have an unlisted address. but then those fields probably would not have been populated anyway, and it would have been your name only.

if thats the case, and any information that is restricted from other public resources (like the above mentioned phone book) was removed from the CCWL list, then i really dont see what the huge deal is. i dont think that BECAUSE of the easier availabilty of this list your will somehow promote crime or violence towards these individuals.

i dont think its very logical to pick out houses to rob based on the presence of a CCWL among the residence. In fact, if anything i think its more of a deterrent. sure BG's are looking for firearms, but why rob a house you KNOW has armed residence. seems silly. even if you stake it out and think the house is empty, its not something i would take a chance on. furthermore, all this time spent tracking down names addresses and waiting for the occupance to leave, you could have robbed a couple houses and bought a gun off the street. its not as though acquiring illegal and un-licensed firearms is extremely difficult to do. i look like a reasonably stand up guy, i dress ok and hold myself well, but ive been offered weapons while walking down the street before. and i dont mean key ring SAK's either.

ill sleep on it. ill come back tomorrow and post if my mind has changed.
 

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NN,

My old phone number & address was restricted and unlisted.
My name and info is on the list.
My current is same and it's on a govt. list as well, along with my SS#, mortgage information, and likely a ton more personal info.

I have no quarrel with stuff being available via FOIA, heck I use same toward my own work on a regular basis.
My issue and lots of others is making this information publicly available via apublice venue which was not the case prior inclusive of the $100 fee and having to drive to Richmond, VA to fill out the FOPIA request turning it in in person. Not I , you, or most anyone would go through those steps and efforts and that alone acts as a barrier toward Joe Blow and I.B. Criminal from digging this stuff up. Also $100 is alot of money for most people including former BFs, abusive ex-husbands, et. al.

As for burglars they now have a listing of persons who are very likely to own a firearm, if not multiple firearms. In VA one requires a CHP to allow themselves not just to carry but to purchase more than one firearm per month in any given month, as per state law change back in the early 90s under then Gov. Doug Wilder. Not all those people on the list carry, they just have the legal ability to do so if they choose. The writer did not speak to this and likely is not aware of as much.
Criminals on the other hand know this and now have a complete database broken down by community, not just towns or cities, but actual unincorporated housing communities & developments...my old development was listed by that with over 10 pages of marks to hit as were others near by small & large none of which are actual incorporated towns or cities (!).
As well not only does it let criminals know which homes are potential gold mines but it also lets them know who might resist or have the greater potential to do so which then means they may choose to come in and shoot first asking nothing removing our here to for benefit of surprise and stealthiness.
Then there are those persons whose employers or even neighbors and so called friends might not personally approve of CCW or even gun ownership. Now those folks know other folks business for free and with ease thanks to this asshole.

I could go on with more but you get the picture I think.
Yes one couldv'e done their own homework and inquired toward the database and secured it witht he cost of three tanks of gas. But now the writer and his crap paper have removed that barrier and as a result reduced the security for a number of persons which in some peoples real life situations is significant.

- Janq
 

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Nose Nuggets said:
So Janq, your saying your mortgage information and SS# where on this public list? i was unclear on that.
No, it was not on that list.
As much information is in other govt. databases be it town, city, state, or even federal which can be requested via FOIA if a person goes throught he hoops or even knowns who to ask and how to do so.

On this listing my full complete name and former address was listed.
Here in MA one has to register their SS# with the state toward securing a hunting or fishing (game) license. That info too toward game licensing can be re requested via FOIA and the persons state 'system ID#' is their SS#. I know this because last Friday I ordered a MA hunting & fishing license and had to call the MA game division IT dept. (617-626-1613) after being bumped around several times to inquire about why it was I could not register myself via their online website toward as much. As it turns out they had not yet loaded my SS# in to the state registry database which must be done in order for the website ordering interface to know/authenticate me as being me. This should be ones license number which is a TPIN but these guys haven't gotten to that stage as they still are manually loading blocks of data by hand, so says the technician I spoke with who is tasked to the job.

There are more than a few ways to look folks up if you really wanted to put an effort into it, but they require effort and often cost.
In this case Trejbal and his paper eliminated the effort and cost and put us all, VA CHP holders, on front street.

- Janq
 
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