State lawmakers will vote on a measure — House Bill 4310 — that would keep secret from disclosure any application for or renewal of a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public.
The cleverly written, National Rifle Association bill, which hides behind code numeral references to conceal its true intent, is an affront to any West Virginian who believes his government is answerable to him.
The bill’s supporters say the measure is needed to protect the privacy of people who request or are approved for concealed carry permits, and have cited the decision by a New York newspaper in 2012 to publish the names and addresses of gun owners in two downstate counties. But such logic is remarkably backwards; a license to carry a concealed weapon in public is no private matter.
Carrying a concealed weapon is a privilege and not a right to open carry as granted by interpretations of the Second Amendment — indeed the very fact that a license is issued distinguishes it from the basic constitutional right to bear arms.
Aside from that, this very special interest bill allows the government to operate in secrecy and closes the door to any public review of the issuance of such permits, flinging open the door, instead to the possibility of corruption.
We have said it before: the public is the best militia in monitoring the activities of its government. If deadly weapons are to remain in the public realm, the public should not be thwarted by lawmakers who seek to muzzle its right to know information that should also remain in the public realm.
We will report on our local lawmakers and if they voted to deny the public access to records and advance the agenda of government that operates in secrecy or if they voted the the public’s right to have access to these public records.