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Doug Clark of the Greensboro, NC News & Record just can’t stand the fact that a state law passed last year makes it difficult for him to get your gun permit and concealed carry information, and so he pens a dramatically overwrought lament:

Our legislature is so tightly controlled by the gun lobby that it granted a demand to make gun permits — formerly public records — confidential.

So a woman, possibly threatened with death by her husband or boyfriend, is not entitled to know if he has a permit to purchase a handgun.

It’s apparently none of her business.

And if someone goes on a murder spree, the public is not entitled to know whether he was recently granted a handgun permit.

That’s none of our business.

These permits are granted, or denied, by sheriffs — who are elected public officials. But the public can’t hold them accountable for the decisions they make.

A sheriff could grant permits to Democrats and deny them to Republicans.

Or grant them to white people and deny them to black people.

Or grant them to women and deny them to men.

But the public would have no way to know because all records are confidential by law …

… unless a judge says otherwise on a case by case basis.

Oh, but where to begin?

Perhaps we could point Clark in the direction of Eugene Volokh, who writes about a similar situation in West Virginia. A newpaper was denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the names of all people with a concealed carry permit. That request was denied, and those journalists whined about their “First Amendment rights” to that information.

Volokh notes:

Stories about whether one constitutional right “trump[s]” another usually turn on unduly loose understandings of what constitutes a right. This is particularly so in this situation.

There is no First Amendment right to access government records. There’s a First Amendment right to speak about what you’ve found in a record that was released to you, but not a First Amendment right to access the record in the first place. (Courts have recognized one significant exception this principle — a First Amendment right of access to documents filed in criminal prosecutions or civil lawsuits. But that exception is limited, and not applicable to ordinary government records.)

In short, out right to acquire or carry perfectly legal private property protected by the Second Amendment is none of your business, Doug, and you don’t have a legitimate First Amendment claim to any of it.

But here’s a part of Clark’s whine that I found to be particularly rich:

These permits are granted, or denied, by sheriffs — who are elected public officials. But the public can’t hold them accountable for the decisions they make.

A sheriff could grant permits to Democrats and deny them to Republicans.

Or grant them to white people and deny them to black people.

Really, Clark? Are you that historically ignorant?

North Carolina’s handgun permitting process is a relic of the Jim Crow South instituted specifically so that sheriffs—overwhelmingly Democrats at the time—could deny that permit to purchase a handgun based upon the color of the requester’s skin, or their known or suspected political beliefs.

The permits would then denied based upon grounds of “moral character,” which in the 1890s-1950s, meant that you might be a minority, or a Republican (or both).

In short, the permitting process was created for the explicit purpose of facilitating discrimination, not to serve as a tool to uncover it.

Sadly, that there even remains a purchase permit remains an embarrassment, one that the legislature tried to strike down just last year. The NC Sheriff’s Association fought bitterly to derail the repeal of the permitting process, however, and eventually won… until next time.

Perhaps instead of whining about a law that respects the rights of citizens, Clark could learn to do some legwork and research as a journalist.

I hear history is a great place to start.