Handgun permits should be public records

As of Oct. 1 in North Carolina, the records of those who have a concealed handgun permit or a pistol permit are confidential and no longer public record.

According to the latest Elon University Poll, 60% of respondents said that these records should be public vs. 38% who said they shouldn’t.

The law was changed last summer when the General Assembly loosened a number of gun restrictions. For the record, our polling also has shown that the General Assembly’s actions on guns are out of step with most North Carolinians.

“The public’s attitude about handgun permits shows once again that people are generally in favor of transparency,” said Jonathan Jones, director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition. “It’s not surprising that people want to know who has a license for a handgun, and it’s unfortunate that the General Assembly decided to make those records off limits.”

Digging into the numbers:

Politics: 67% of Democrats said they thought the permits should be public records, vs. 58% of Independents and 55% of Republicans.

Race: 65% of African Americans and 56% of whites think they should be public.

Age: Those on the youngest and oldest ends of the scale are most strongly in support of keeping the records public. 71% of those 65+ and 63% of those 18-30 favor it.

Despite the demographics, it is unlikely that the GOP-controlled General Assembly or the governor will open the records. The conservative position on guns is too strong.

Bear in mind that North Carolinians can be a fickle bunch when it comes to openness.

Another result of the poll is that 60% of respondents agreed with the statement that it is important to get “any document you want from government.”

On the other hand, 63% of respondents agreed with the statement: “Sometimes government officials are justified in keeping some information a secret.”

— John Robinson

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