Government affairs representative for the Montana Newspaper Association John Barrows testified before the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to oppose SB 145.

Senate Bill 145 eliminates all information concerning gun permit applications from the public realm. As part of his testimony, Barrows says "Currently, around the country, particularly after the horrible shootings at Sandy Hook School in Newton, Connecticut, and the printing of a map by a New York newspaper of local gun permit owners (not specifically concealed weapon permits) there has been a flurry of attempts across the country to completely eliminate any information at all about concealed weapons"

Barrows opposes SB 145 "on the basis of it being an excessive and prior restraint of the people’s Constitutional Right to Know in an area in which the public has both a substantial and legitimate interest. Article II, Section 9 of the Montana Constitution requires government documents to be open to examination, except in cases in which the demand of individual privacy clearly exceeds the merits of public disclosure."

Barrows continues.. "We agree that much of the information currently required on a Concealed Weapon Permit Application may clearly be considered to fall within the realm of individual privacy, and we have previously testified in support of SB 37, which was brought to this committee upon the recommendation of the Law and Justice Interim Committee, and which would balance both the right of individual privacy and the public’s Right to Know by limiting information to the name and address of applicants. In that hearing we had also noted that the public should also have the right to know whether or not the applicant listed any criminal record."

Barrows says the decision on whether or not to actually publish the information from gun permits should be up to the newspaper or media source.

John Barrows