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House Votes to Keep Privacy of Concealed Handgun Permit Holders - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

House Votes to Keep Privacy of Concealed Handgun Permit Holders

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Finding out who has a concealed handgun permit in Virginia may get a little tougher. On Tuesday,  the House of Delegates voted to make sure the identities of concealed permit holders are off the record to the public.

Now, gun owners are saying it's not just a matter of privacy, it's about personal safety.

NBC29 spoke with a number of gun shop owners, and more agree that knowledge of permit holders gives the "bad guys" a leg up.

"Now, Freedom of Information says people get to know an awful lot, but sometimes prudence would say 'don't do that," said Edgar Lindamood, co-owner of Acme Arms.

Lindamood says just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

"A fair body of social science evidence indicates that the greater the number of concealed carries the greater the effect on lowering crime. There's pretty strong correlation between that. Well obviously if it's not concealed, the concealed effect goes away," said Lindamood.

The House overwhelmingly passed a measure by a vote of 76 to 23 to prohibit a circuit court clerk from disclosing any information regarding concealed carry permits - including names.

Supporters say having the files for anyone to see could tip off criminals.

Lindamood says it's important owners don't become targets. "People who have firearms tend to have more than one firearm. So, If people know there's a guy who has firearms and he's not home, well guess what, there's probably a pretty good chance they'll break in," he said.

"And then there's also the possibility of actual harm. If your neighbor's identified as the guy who doesn't have a firearm, then the chances of his home being broken into are probably greater," said Lindamood.

But the question is, is it really an issue? NBC29 contacted five circuit court clerks, in the counties of Fluvanna, Albemarle and Greene, and the cities of Charlottesville and Waynesboro - who say they have never, or very rarely, received requests to see the records.

Delegate David Toscano, who voted against the measure, admits it's not a big issue in central Virginia, but says the amendment was narrowly drawn.

"It's really intended to protect people with protective orders and don't want their names disclosed, that bill is radically changed," said Toscano.

Senator Mark Obenshain, who sponsored the bill, says he wanted to tackle this issue because of what he calls "abuse by newspapers in Virginia publishing the information."

The matter is expected to go to the Senate Thursday.

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