In the state of Washington, concealed carry permit holders enjoy anonymity, but that may soon change. Under the current Washington’s Public Records Act concealed carry licensing laws, the licensee’s name and application information is protected from public disclosure except as required by law enforcement or corrections officials.
Washington has similar initiatives for the protection of personal information from public disclosure of participants who have information in the government database for other programs such as public utilities, public transit, and library patronage.
Private Information Could be Made Public after Legal Review
The Washington State Attorney General Bob Fergusen is performing a review of the information protection of Washington’s concealed carry license holders currently protected under the State Public Records Act.
The question is, why would previously safeguarded information need to be released to the public after previous laws have allowed other private information be concealed?
There appears to be no reason that this type of personal information would need to be released to the public since the proper authorities in all states are already allowed access.
Why Should Concealed Carry Information Stay Protected?
First off, when you apply for a concealed carry permit application in a state, you expect to be subject to the current laws regarding state privacy. Since this information was not allowed to be disclosed many citizens may have felt safe providing this information necessary to apply for the permit. So what you thought would be privately filed could all of a sudden become public domain for everyone.
One of the issues that is even more concerning is the fact that most current and former law enforcement officers, private investigators, judges, and undercover officers have concealed weapons permits and often hide their private address information to protect themselves and their families.
Additionally, you have the risk to those who are looking to protect themselves, such as those who have been a victim of domestic violence, from having their private address information made public and giving access to their would-be attackers.
Making CCL information part of the public domain is not only violating privacy rights of law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves but is also dangerous to those who need their private information protected.
What about Other States?
Currently, many states allow for at least some level of confidentiality in the application and license process of those who wish to obtain a concealed carry permit. The state regulations regarding information privacy is indicated to citizens before they begin their application process.
The legal review being sought by the Attorney General of Washington comes as a shock to many since even states with strict gun control policies including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii protect their concealed carry licensee’s information from being publicly disclosed.
Senate Bill S-2954.1
The Senate Law and Justice Committee has recently proposed Senate Bill S-2954.1 that would further extend the existing statues to ensure that gun owner’s concealed carry license, as well as other application documents, can remain protected even if the review deems they should be made public record.
The NRA is throwing its support behind the bill which will be heard during the 2018 Legislative Session and hopes that with its passing the privacy of law-abiding citizens who wish to exercise their right to concealed carry will be able to retain their privacy no matter what.
Is this an Attempt to Limit the Number of Permit Carriers?
Could this be an attempt to limit the number of people obtaining licenses? If law-abiding firearm owners do not wish for their identity or application information to be disclosed for safety or other reasons, they may think twice before obtaining a permit for fear of their information getting into the hands of the wrong person.
The bigger concern may be what will happen to all those permit holders who may lose their anonymity overnight?
If the Attorney General decides that this private information should be subject to public disclosure, who knows what the next step will be against second amendment rights for the law-abiding citizens of Washington.
~ American Gun News