Little opposition to weapon permit confidentiality

Little opposition was expressed at a hearing Monday for a bill that would make all information pertaining to Nevada concealed weapons permits confidential.

Backers of AB143 argued such confidentiality is a safety issue, because thieves could find out who has concealed weapons permits - and presumably guns - and target those homes for burglary.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, and others also would ease requirements for obtaining a concealed weapons permit and is similar to SB126 pending in the Senate.

Both proposals allow gun owners to qualify for a certain type of weapon, such as a revolver or semi-automatic, instead of for individual guns as currently required. AB143 goes further in addressing the confidentiality issue.

The Assembly Judiciary committee took testimony Monday but did not vote on AB143.

The bill follows a lawsuit filed in 2008 by the Reno Gazette-Journal against Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley over the permit records of former Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Gibbons temporarily surrendered his permit after acknowledging he hadn't completed the legally required training for each of his nine handguns. The sheriff ultimately revoked the certification of the firearms instructor who signed off on the training. Gibbons later completed his requirements.

Last year, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that while weapon permit applications are confidential, the applicant's identity and any subsequent records of investigation, suspension or revocation are not.

AB143 would change that.

"The decision of the Supreme Court to open the records to the press and just about anybody has unintended consequences," Johann Sprenger, whose daughter has a concealed weapons permit, testified at the hearing.

"It's not very far to go to be able to find the names and addresses and whether or not the person has at least one firearm," Sprenger said.

Only the Nevada Press Association spoke against the bill.

"How can the public scrutinize the process ... to ensure there is fairness?" association lobbyist Trevor Hayes asked. "How can we ensure there are not felons on the list?

"If we don't have that opportunity, then we are leaving the government to police itself," he said.

He also took exception to the arguments about safety, and noted that four witnesses who testified in favor of confidentiality volunteered that they carry firearms.

"I would say if the criminal goes to the trouble of looking this up, those would probably be the houses they avoid," Hayes said.

"I beg to differ with your assessment," countered Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-Las Vegas.

The Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice proposed an amendment that would ensure permit information was available by subpoena in criminal or civil court actions.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment