EDITORIALS/It's not the government's business
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 12:00 AM
Why does the state Legislature continue to insist on registering gun owners as they do sex offenders? And now, they want to keep registering gun owners but make those records secret.
Repealing the requirement for the government to maintain records on gun owners is better than sealing records.
Keeping an eye on government is essential. If government insists on keeping records on gun owners, citizens should be able to view those records.
The government has no business whatsoever maintaining records on law-abiding gun owners, and that ought to be the issue, not rushing to close public records.
Funny, a lot of lawmakers agree, but Republicans around the state are saying privately they can't afford to expend the political capital to defend the First Amendment. What does that mean?
The Legislature under Republican leadership up until now has been groundbreaking and transformational.
The leadership of Speaker Philip Gunn in balancing the budget and fostering bipartisanship has been phenomenal.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves did an extraordinary job pushing the charter schools legislation that will better our state.
Gov. Phil Bryant, even as lieutenant governor, was a stalwart for transparency.
Where are they now on the First Amendment?
Most dangerous is a government - any government - keeping secret records on anybody, particularly gun owners.
Ever thought about being thrown in a Mexican or Russian jail? Why do you think we have open jail records? There's no such thing as secret arrest - outside of what we've now come to see as the highly flawed Patriot Act.
The calculated decision by Republicans to demonize the (largely conservative) Mississippi press over sealing gun registration records is unfortunate.
It's a strange sight indeed to see so-called conservatives rallying around the state government's right to register gun owners and keep those records secret.
Republicans have been too quick to lump Mississippi publishers in with the liberal New York newspaper that irresponsibly published a digital map of registered gun owners as they sought to make a political point.
A rushed vote Monday evening in House Judiciary A, chaired by Rep. Mark Baker, R-Brandon, advanced a bill that would seal what are now state-issued permits to carry concealed weapons.
The full House voted 101-18 on Tuesday to close the records. The bill heads to the Senate.
Rep. Baker on Monday night told the Mississippi Press Association, which has opposed closing any public records, that "the train had left on this one." He said there is "nothing more to say."
Representatives of the newspaper industry were not even given an opportunity to speak before Baker's committee.
The speed with which some are willing to give up certain freedoms allegedly for others is astounding and potentially dangerous for the republic.
We must be careful about limiting amendments because the Second follows the First.
Principled constitutional concerns are not easily articulated overnight as lawmakers wage a populist social media campaign.
No one more so than Madison County Sen. Will Longwitz, R-Madison, who has authored a similar bill in the Senate, and who declared Monday night he was throwing his full support behind the House bill.
"There is no time to lose. A Tupelo newspaper has requested all the records of every conceal-carry license holder in Lee County," he said in a "sponsored" Facebook post. "We must act now. Your information could be next. Nobody has a right to your conceal-carry information but you!"
The Tupelo newspaper "unequivocally" has "no intention of publishing names and/or addresses of any (concealed carry) permit holders," Lloyd Gray, the editor of the Daily Journal, said Monday night.
He continued: "Our reporter's interest was in numbers, trends and how the data is collected and handled. We've had lots of people tell us anecdotally that they've seen big crowds when they've gone to get their permits, so our reporter wanted to know how many."
And while these guys in the House and Senate are proud of themselves with their closing the doors of government bills, it's the citizens who ultimately lose when any government records are sealed.
We fought a Revolution over our God-given unalienable rights, transparency and a free press.
While Republicans have long been institutionalists and protective of government, the Mississippi Tea Party should be the one concerned about putting its principles on life support.
The Mississippi Tea Party urged in an e-mail Monday: "Protect gun owner privacy - call the House Tuesday."
Unfortunately, they were not urging a call in support of the First Amendment. Tea Party supporters admit they are for limiting the press. And yet limiting the press doesn't quite make them tea partiers in the purest sense.
And we thought the liberals were the confused and unprincipled ones.