Bad bill

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 22 2013 | 9:07 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:48 am in

The Burlington Hawk Eye

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Thereís been an awful lot of talk about guns since the Newtown, Conn., massacre.

It started with President Barack Obama making a national call for stricter access to firearms, which sent Second Amendment zealots into a tizzy, declaring the president was going to singlehandedly outlaw the private possession of guns.

Of course that was never true ó the president never suggested such a thing ó but those on the fringes of both the right and the left never let pass an opportunity to whip up a frenzy.

Last week, the Wapello School Board discussed including armed security at its building in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. Similar discussions are taking place around the country as sane people try to cope with an insane possibility.

One touchy subject with the gun owners is the fact that the permit they need to carry a weapon is a public record in most states, including Iowa, and any citizen can go to their county sheriffís office and learn who has a permit to carry a gun.

Seems fair, but itís struck a nerve from gun advocates who think itís nobodyís business if they have such a permit.

Itís prompted House File 81 in the Iowa Legislature, which would make confidential the names and addresses of holders of nonprofessional permits to carry weapons and permits to acquire pistols and revolvers. The bill has been assigned to a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

Itís one of those itís-none-of-your-business laws. And that would be true if the permit holder never took the weapon off his ó or her ó property. Then itís just a private matter.

But when the gun is brought into the public domain, the dynamic is changed.

Someone can go to the Des Moines County Courthouse anytime and find out who has taken out a marriage license. You can go to the Burlington Police Department and find out how many speeding tickets were issued so far this month and who they were issued to. When things happen out in public, itís no longer a private matter.

We say the public has a right to know an awful lot on this page, and this is one instance where that is painfully obvious.

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