Target: Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal
Goal: Don’t penalize journalists who publish information about people who have applied for or received handgun permits
Recently, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed a bill that penalizes journalists for publishing “any information regarding the identity of any person who applied for or received a concealed handgun permit.” Journalists can face up to six months in jail and a fine of $10,000. Bloggers and the general public are also subject to penalty if they publicly publish any personal information about gun owners. The only exception to the law applies to cases in which the gun owner is charged with a felony involving the handgun.
The bill was drafted in response to an incident in New York, where the publication The Journal News published an interactive online map of handgun permit holders in two New York counties. The map was made in response to the Newtown shootings. The publication used public records to create the map, which included names and addresses of thousands of concealed carry permit holders in the area. Many people reacted negatively to the map, insisting that it infringed upon the privacy of the gun owners and made them a target. The backlash was so severe that The Journal News decided to remove the map from their website. Regardless of the motives of The Journal News, the publication was within its rights to publish the information.
The Louisiana law effectively infringes upon the freedom of the press. Second Amendment rights should not be protected at the expense of the First Amendment. Personal information about handgun permit holders is information that should be freely available under the Freedom of Information Act.
Penalizing journalists with fines and jail time only serves to criminalize journalism. Keeping this information under wraps from the public poses a huge obstacle to independent efforts by media outlets and organizations to evaluate gun permit programs and gun permit trends in Louisiana.
Sign the petition below to restore First Amendment rights to journalists, bloggers, and individuals in Louisiana.
Dear Governor Bobby Jindal,
The new state law that prohibits individuals from publicly publishing personal information about handgun permit holders infringes upon the freedoms of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment. Proponents of the legislation insist that the law protects the privacy of gun owners, but permits are issued under public record. The locations of handguns can prove to be extremely useful and informative data for citizens wondering how their areas are impacted by guns and gun laws.
Information about gun owners can also be extremely useful in studies and reports compiled by independent media outlets and organizations. Under the Freedom of Information Act, this information should be allowed to be published.
Stop criminalizing journalism. Restore the freedom of the press to the people of Louisiana by repealing this bill.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: robertnelson via Flickr