Chart: Gun permit data accessibility in all 50 states

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Public:

Nevada: Issued concealed gun permits and their status are public records but the applications for permits are not.

Presumed Open:

New Hampshire: State law requires local officials to administer a handgun licensing program and to collect personal information from individuals applying for the licenses. Although there is no statutory prohibition on disclosing the data, there are no statutes or court decisions affirming that the records are public.

Access Threatened - Legislation Introduced to Restrict Gun Records:

California: Records of concealed handgun permits are generally public under a 1986 decision by the state’s Supreme Court. The legislature, however, has made certain information in the records confidential, such as where and when an individual might be subject to attack and information concerning an applicant’s mental health. The legislature has also exempted the home addresses and telephone numbers of judicial and peace officers who apply for the permits. A state Assemblyman introduced a bill in January that would keep the addresses and other personal information of all permit holders private, though the names of permit holders would remain public.

Iowa: No laws specifically prevent the release of gun permit records. State law requires the state commissioner of public safety to maintain a list of all valid permits to carry guns and revocations of permits, though no courts have considered whether the database is subject to the state’s open records law. Local sheriffs are in charge of administering the permit process, though they are under no obligation to keep permit records and also have the discretion to return the records to applicants once they have been reviewed. A bill introduced in the state legislature would make the records confidential.

Maine: Permits to carry concealed handgun are public records. However, an emergency bill was introduced in the legislature in February that would make the records confidential.

Michigan: Records of handgun permits granted by local law enforcement officials are public records, as are databases tracking handgun ownership. A measure recently introduced in the state Senate would make those records exempt from public disclosure. Michigan law already exempts licensed concealed handgun holders data from the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Mississippi: The law currently states that concealed handgun permits are exempt from the Public Records Act for 45 days after they are issued or denied, but become public after that. The state’s two legislative chambers have each introduced bills that would exempt such records from disclosure. The House voted to approve its bill on Jan. 28.

Montana: Gun permit records in the state are public. There are two different bills before the state legislature that would limit public access to gun permit records. The first would make the information provided in concealed handgun permit applications completely confidential. The second would require that the name and address of a permit holder be public but would exempt all other information contained in the application.

North Carolina: The state database of concealed handgun permit holders is open to the public, but a bill introduced this year would make it confidential.

Tennessee: Individuals’ handgun permits records are public. However, a bill introduced this year would prohibit the release of all information related to handgun permit records maintained by officials.

West Virginia: Although concealed handgun permits in West Virginia are public records, bills have been introduced in the past two legislative sessions to prohibit the release of names, addresses and other personally identifying information of all applicants and licensees. The bill would also require the state to compile statistical data each year on the number of concealed handgun licenses granted.

Limited Access:

Alabama: The annual number of concealed handgun applicants, licenses issued and denied, revenue generated from the permitting, and other statistical information are public records. The names, addresses, and signatures of individuals seeking a concealed handgun permit, however, are confidential.

Arkansas: Records related to the issuance, renewal, expiration, suspension or revocation of a license to carry a concealed handgun, including records related to any criminal or mental health history check performed by officials are private. Upon the request of a state resident, officials will provide the name and zip code of an applicant. Even that information may become exempt, however, as the state senate has approved legislation that would prohibit the release of the name and zip code of permit holders.

Colorado: Each sheriff in the state is required to prepare an annual report specifying the number of applications received, accepted, and denied as well as the number of permits revoked. The report must also contain the reasons for denying or revoking a permit. The law prohibits the sheriff from releasing applicants’ names, though it does not explicitly prohibit the release of other identifying information, such as addresses.

Kansas: Although state law prohibits the disclosure of individually identifying records related to applications for concealed handgun permits and the licenses themselves, records of individuals who have had their licenses suspended or revoked are open to inspection under the state’s public records act.

New York: A sweeping gun control bill passed in January also restricted access to gun permit records, which were previously public. The law stated that no gun license data would be available for 120 days after the bill became law. After that, individuals with permits and those applying for new permits can request that their application information be permanently withheld from the public record in certain situations, including if the individual is a police officer, a victim of domestic violence, a juror or witness involved in criminal trials, fearful for their life or worried about unwarranted harassment.

Ohio: Records related to the issuance, renewal, suspension, or revocations of a concealed handgun license are not public records. A journalist, however, may inspect — but not copy — information in the gun permit records if a written request is submitted stating why disclosure of the information sought would be in the public interest. Additionally, aggregate data about gun permits is available as each year the state’s peace officer training commission must create a public report detailing the number of concealed handgun permit applications received as well as the number of permits that were issued, renewed, suspended, revoked or denied.

Oregon: A 2012 law prohibits the state from disclosing concealed handgun permit records unless the disclosure is made for a law enforcement purpose, a court orders the disclosure or an individual holding a permit consents to the disclosure in writing. The law permits officials to confirm to the media whether a person convicted of a crime involving a handgun has a concealed license permit.

Rhode Island: State law prohibits the disclosure of the names of individuals who have been granted concealed handgun permits. However, concealed handgun permit applications records, including the name, address and date of birth of individual applicants, are public records. The latter has been the subject of repeated legislative attention, as bills have been introduced in the past several sessions of the state legislature to restrict applicant information from public disclosure.

Texas: State law prohibits the public release of individually identifying records of concealed handgun applications and permits, though records related to individuals who qualify as certified handgun instructors are public so long as the instructors opt in to make their information public. Additionally, the state department of public safety has to provide a statistical report detailing the number of licenses issued, denied, suspended or revoked by the state, including the age, gender, race and zip code of the applicant or license holder.

Virginia: The commonwealth passed a law in 2009 that prohibited the release of a statewide database of concealed handgun owners. The individual permit applications for gun permits are still publicly available, however, from local courthouses where the permits are issued. Even the local records may no longer be public in the future, though, as a bill passed by both chambers of the commonwealth’s legislature restricts access to county-level data as well.

No public access:

The following states prohibit public access to gun permit records, including application data: Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Vermont and Wyoming do not require individuals to be licensed to either own a handgun or to carry one concealed, and therefore do not maintain gun permit records.

— Aaron Mackey