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NC bill would make concealed handgun permit records private

NC bill would make concealed handgun permit records private

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Do you have a right to know who owns a concealed weapon?

North Carolina is on a shrinking list of states where concealed handgun permit records are available to the public. But if a new bill making its way through our state legislature is passed, it would make those records private.

For some gun-owners, the change means better protection for themselves against criminals looking to break into their homes and steal their guns.

"I really don't think people need to know how many guns you have, where your home is located," Vicki Johnson, a Greenville resident, says. "That just sets it up for me feeling like I'm going to get robbed."

For other gun advocates, it's simply a matter of privacy.

"I think it should be private and I feel that way because I think it's a violation of the individual's right for somebody else to know whether or not they own a gun," says Kevin Chesson, who recently applied for a concealed carry permit.

On the other hand, opponents of the bill argue it would prevent the public and the media from holding sheriff's offices accountable. For example, to ensure they're not letting convicted felons slip through the cracks to obtain gun permits.

"It seems too easy to be able to get a gun in North Carolina," says Jaclyn Ruemmler, who believes the public records keep government transparent. "And I definitely believe that it's our right to know."

9 On Your Side brought that concern to Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks.

"We're accountable," Elks says. "We get audited from time to time by the SBI, the ATF, the FBI. I would gladly submit my records to them anytime….I personally oversee those backgrounds and make sure they're done. We even monitor that if they get arrested for a felony, I go immediately to the jail and revoke their permit."

As for Elks' opinion on the new bill, he says, "If people choose to be gun owners and possess guns, I think that's their private right. Do I think a criminal is going to come in and get all the gun permits and applications for concealed carries? Probably not. But what happens to that information after it's given out to the public? Does it lay on the Internet somewhere?"

He continued, ""The biggest concern that I have is there's too much personal information on their application. Often times, we have their date of births, their social security number, their driver's license number, and where is this piece of paper going end up at the end of the day? Is it going to end up on somebody's desk or on the Internet where you've got scammers out their constantly looking for ways to assume a person's identity?"

The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote.

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