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Gun records confidentiality bills sent to Snyder

AP Wire • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:37 PM

A Republican package of bills passed by a wide margin, with 80-28 being the closest vote. They are expected on Gov. Rick Snyder's desk soon.

The bills would codify a 1999 Michigan Supreme Court decision that found the disclosure of gun registry records to be "a clearly unwarranted invasion of an individual's privacy."

The legislation would amend the Michigan handgun law to exempt all firearms records, including previously protected concealed-carry permit records, from Freedom of Information Act requests. The information would still be available to law enforcement officials for certain purposes.

Bill sponsor Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, said people practicing their constitutional right to gun ownership shouldn't lose their privacy. Lawmakers introduced the legislation after a New York newspaper published the names and addresses of gun owners in two counties in December 2012, following the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Nesbitt said.

National Rifle Association spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen has said gun owners' information should be confidential because "law-abiding permit holders" should be protected from "unscrupulous media organizations" that print their personal information.

Critics of the bill, such as Jane Briggs-Bunting, a retired journalism professor and the president of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government, say the legislation shows lawmakers are reducing the amount of information available to the public. Briggs-Bunting said the trend threatens a "free, vibrant democracy" when the House first passed some of the bills in March.

SB 834: http://1.usa.gov/Tj5O8Q

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