What part of "concealed" don’t you understand?

Yesterday I briefly commiserated with Ohio holders of concealed carry permits because newspapers there are editorially supporting a bill to continue making CCW permit holders names available to newspapers. Newspapers say this is because newspapers have a special responsibility for keeping government accountable.

This had been the responsibility of voters, last time I checked, so this idea would seem to be connected with a media ability to emit political opinion in the 60 days preceeding an election – when the NRA or NOW can’t.

Among free-speech suppressionists this is known as the “press exemption”, for no reason I have ever been able to find. You’d have to ask John McCain and Russ Feingold, two presidential wannabes who think the First Amendment is optional. Their Campaign Finance Reform act has received support from the PNB press in general and specifically from the Lansing State Journal, where there is a lingering suspicion that political speech is not yet suppressed enough.

So, no surprise, today the Lansing State Journal joined the fray in opposing privacy protection for CCW holders in Michigan. Done with the First, let’s move on to the Second and Fourth.

This is a paper that thinks the NSA shouldn’t have your anonymous phone records, but that newspapers should know if you, personally, have a concealed carry permit.

One must assume the LSJ is not claiming that denying criminals foreknowledge of who definitely has a firearm is a violation of those potential convicts’ civil liberties. It is not actually explained how LSJ access to your CCW records (or lack thereof) would enhance public officials’ accountability, but they do make the claim:

The Michigan House now has a bill that would hide another government function from public scrutiny, a bill that would make public officials less accountable.

Less accountable to who? The LSJ did not have access to CCW records before the law was changed, and I do not remember any complaints about it then. But as long as Proescutor Dunnings and Sheriff Wrigglesworth could be sole arbiters, the LSJ didn’t care. The real issue? The LSJ doesn’t think CCW laws should have changed to take the arbitrary suspension of Second Amendment rights out of the hands of cronyist local gun control boards.

Back in 2000, the Michigan Legislature was pushed to “reform” concealed weapons law by limiting the discretion of county permit boards.

Then, the argument was that these local boards were inconsistent and even played favorites with permits – issuing them to only those favored few. Under the new law, county boards “must issue” permits to all qualifying applicants.

If you buy the logic of that law, the local boards – on which the county prosecutor and county sheriff sit – can’t be trusted to act on their own discretion.

It’s shall issue, which is different than “must.” “Must” would mean the gun control board wasn’t even necessary. “Must” ignores the requirement to pass an FBI check. “Must” is untrue if required training has not been completed. “Must” is untrue if an applicant has a domestic violence record, among other disqualifiers. Use of the word “must” is bias.

The formerly arbitrary issuance of the permits isn’t even at issue, it was commonplace. Where was the LSJ when light needed to be shined on that part of accountability in government?

After the law was changed we were given more evidence of gun board capriciousness in the foot dragging obstructionism on the part of several Counties – who had to be sued into compliance with the law. So, yes, I buy the logic that local gun boards can’t be trusted – it was the point in the first place. It’s exactly why I wouldn’t trust those officials now – they’re the people who opposed my right to self defense before – and they’re not over it. Why would I trust their discretion to “[withhold] such records … on privacy grounds?”

The way people know that county gun boards are acting appropriately is by the statistics on gun crimes committed by permit holders. If there had been any we’d have heard about it from the LSJ, and the “I was right about blood-in-the-street” letters to the editor would have been a flood. Instead, the most recent stats I can find in a short search are that of over 1,900 permits issued in Ingham County by late 2003, 7 had been revoked.

We know about the effectiveness of the CCW program the same way we know the Internal Revenue Service is doing its job – by the number of people who are prosecuted for breaking the tax laws.

And you know what? We don’t seem to need journalist access to all Americans’ tax returns to prove the IRS is doing its job.