Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Louisiana law would restrict reporting on gun permits, critics claim

28 May 2013

A new state law in Louisiana will make it illegal to publish any information about concealed handgun permits.

Under the law, which appears headed to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to sign, those found to have published such information could face up to six months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

On May 21, Louisiana’s House of Representatives voted 33-2 in favor of House Bill 8, which would make it illegal to “release, disseminate, or make public in any manner any information contained in an application for a concealed handgun permit or any information regarding the identity of any person who applied for or received a concealed handgun permit,” the New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune reported.

Under House Bill 8, which was sponsored by Rep. Jeff Thompson, law enforcement officials who release the same information without a court order and with the intent that it be published would also face a $500 fine and up to six months in prison.

According to the Times-Picayune, the bill is mostly a reaction to the publication of local gun permit holders’ names and addresses by Hudson Valley newspaper The Journal News in December following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The newspaper came under criticism from gun-rights advocates after it published interactive Google maps with the names and addresses of permit holders in two New York counties.

Louisiana journalists and press freedom advocates have expressed criticism of House Bill 8, specifically citing its unconstitutionality.

In an article in the magazine Mother Jones, Pamela Mitchell, executive director of the Louisiana Press Association, said the bill was “patently unconstitutional” and “troubling because of the precedent it sets."

Carl Redman, executive editor of the Baton Rouge Advocate, said in a Senate committee hearing that he “found it very ironic that the very people who screamed the loudest about attempts to limit their Second Amendment rights are here eager to limit my First Amendment rights”.

Amendments by Louisiana’s Senate mean that the bill will require another vote in the House of Representatives before it is passed to Jindal.

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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