AUGUSTA — The Legislature's Judiciary Committee takes up the issue of concealed handgun permits today in a work session on a bill that makes permit data confidential.
The legislation LD 345 was offered by Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, and was prompted in part after the Bangor Daily requested access to the gun permit data statewide under the state's open records law.
Advocates say the measure protects "law abiding" citizens with gun permits from an unnecessary invasion of their privacy and also insures their safety.
Open records advocates say the permits are open so the government can't discriminate secretly against permit applicants.
They also point out that oversight of the records in other states has shown flawed processes that allowed some people convicted of violent crimes to still hold concealed handgun permits.
While permit application data has been sealed in Maine, the information on the permit including name and address of the permit holder have been public since 1981.
Most other permits issued by the state are subject to the state's open records law and are available for public inspection — including driving records and automobile registration records. Voter registration records also are open to the public. Political parties and candidates are allowed to purchase copies of those lists, which also include names and addresses.
There are several amendments pending Wilson's bill, and some Republicans are speculating Democrats are trying to kill the measure with changes that would create new costs to taxpayers — difficult to pass in a tight budget year.