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Court denies newspaper access to concealed gun permits

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         MICHIGAN         Freedom of Information         Nov 15, 2000    

Court denies newspaper access to concealed gun permits

  • The Detroit Free Press can only see applications for concealed weapons permits filed by state legislators if the names are removed.

In early November, a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a ruling denying the Detroit Free Press access to the names of state legislators on concealed gun permit applications. The court said the newspaper could only see permit applications with the names removed.

The court relied on a Michigan Supreme Court case decided last year that closed access to records of registered handguns. The appeals court equated releasing concealed gun permit applications to releasing records of registered handguns — both invade the privacy of people named in the record, the court said. Applying for a permit to carry a concealed weapon is a “potentially embarrassing detail of one’s private life,” according to the court.

The court said it would not order the release of the names of permit holders because they are required to show a need to carry such a weapon. Revealing the names, the court reasoned, could jeopardize individuals’ safety.

The court agreed that a legitimate public interest exists in knowing whether public officials had received preferential treatment by the boards that grant the applications, but said that the newspaper could make that determination by examining the applications of public officials with the names removed from the records.

Herschel Fink, the attorney for the Detroit Free Press, said the newspaper plans to appeal the Nov. 3 decision.

(Detroit Free Press v. Department of State Police; Media Counsel: Herschel Fink, Detroit) CC

© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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