Gov. Phil Bryant's staff suggested that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) should delay fulfilling requests for gun permit records until a law could be enacted to shield them from public scrutiny, emails obtained by The Associated Press show.

Delaying a public records request until the law can be changed?

Now we don't believe it's anybody's business - especially the government's - who has guns, so we're not advocating a secret state gun registry as the Legislature has established. We don't believe there should be a record at all and find it disturbing Republican leaders could be comfortable with a secret state gun registry.

Emails, obtained under a public records request, show Bryant staff counsel Jack Wilson on Jan. 26 wrote that the gun permits "are subject to the public records act" after they were requested by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal newspaper of Tupelo. (The newspaper's editor has said repeatedly he doesn't intend on publishing the names of gun owners.)

Are Mississippi Republicans above the law?

Wilson and other Bryant staffers suggested DPS should delay its response as long as possible, then deny the request as violating gun owners' Second Amendment rights.

Are Mississippi Republicans above the law?

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed," the Second Amendment states.

Sen. Will Longwitz, R-Madison, admitted during a Senate committee meeting in February that he expedited the gun bill in an effort to aid DPS in denying the pending public records request.

There is nothing inherently conservative about gun control, so why Republicans supported making a bad gun registration law worse remains a mystery other than they were under pressure from the NRA - an organization with which, incidentally, we have no qualms generally.

But Republicans who serve special interests are no different than Democrats who do.

For all the Mississippi GOP's sanctimony about gun owner privacy, the NRA and conservative political strategists have been among the top requestors of names and addresses of gun owners in states with gun registries that are - or were - public record.

Whether one agrees with the law or not, is willfully denying a legitimate public records request the right thing?

The governor's staff counsel had initially said in an email that the list was open to inspection.

"I don't believe there is any applicable statutory exemption," Wilson wrote Jan. 26. "In fact, the statute currently makes it clear that they are subject to the public records act." He went on in the same email to suggest denying the records on Second Amendment grounds, saying that could buy time for a bill to pass.

Wilson also voiced concern that the office of Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, could end up representing the state if anyone sued DPS over the denials.

"The exchange indicates they knew what the statute said and chose to seek a way to delay or avoid compliance," said Charlie Mitchell, a University of Mississippi journalism professor and president of the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information.

Oddly, granting the government a stamp of secrecy was to court the favor of those who, in many other circumstances, insist government cannot be trusted.

Government can't be trusted and neither can Republicans or anyone who is for a secret gun registry.