In a showdown over the privacy rights of gun owners, the Illinois State Police are refusing to release a list identifying all firearm permit holders in the state after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan determined that the information "must" be made public.If there are people ineligible to carry isn't it her job to ensure they're not carying? Why on earth would this woman declare open season on those who carry as well as those who don't? It's lunacy.
The dispute, which soon could come before a judge, has been building since last fall when a reporter for The Associated Press made a Freedom of Information Act request to the police for the names of cardholders as well as information about the weapons each permit holder is authorized to carry.
But the state police, who safeguard that information, resisted as lawmakers and others raised privacy concerns. Critics questioned what public interest it would serve to let neighbors look up each other's potential weapons cache -- further, they warned that publicizing the information could put both gun owners and those who don't own guns at risk.
If the state publishes a list of gun owners, Republican Rep. Ron Stephens said, "You are by design also publishing a list of everyone who doesn't" carry a firearm.
That could be comparable to publishing a list of everyone who has, or doesn't have, a car alarm or home-security system, at least in the eyes of those who want to keep the records private.
"My gun ownership is none of your business," Stephens, who is pushing a bill in the General Assembly to lock down that list, told FoxNews.com. "I don't know what Lisa Madigan doesn't understand about that, but obviously she's confused."
Madigan's office, though, issued a detailed legal opinion Tuesday explaining why the state police should release the registry to The Associated Press.
Assistant Public Access Counselor Matthew Rogina, citing federal court decisions as well as Illinois law, wrote in a letter to the state police attorney that disclosing the names "cannot be characterized as highly personal or objectionable." He wrote that there is a "public interest" in releasing the information, citing the example of an individual who may have become ineligible to carry.
National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said his group would do "whatever we can" to stop the attorney general decision from being enforced.Indeed.
"There's no reason for the names of law-abiding gun owners to be released to the general public," Arulanandam said.
It's curious how the president, who enjoys inserting himself into state issues all the time, isn't poking his nose into an issue in his own state.