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Va. House approves bill to ban public disclosure of handgun permit holders

The Virginia House of Delegates has approved legislation that would ban the disclosure of information about all concealed handgun permit holders.

The House approved an amended version of the Senate proposal on Tuesday by a vote of 76 to 23. The original bill would have prohibited circuit court clerks issuing concealed handgun permits from disclosing any information related to the permit — including personal identifying information — for a person protected by a protective order.

The House version altered the bill to include any concealed handgun permit holder. Opponents criticized the amendment as a drastic change to the initial proposal, but Speaker William J. Howell ruled that the amendment was germane to the original legislation.

Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said the substitute improved and broadened the bill and argued the legislation would help protect people’s privacy and safety. Supporters also cited the publication on a newspaper Web site of handgun permit holders in New York and Connecticut in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings as a reason the measure is needed.

“There are any number of reasons for the publication of that information is not only dangerous, but an invasion of privacy, and frankly, offensively stigmatizing to law-abiding people who are treated ... like people who belong on some list to be watched, much like we treat sex offenders,” Gilbert said.

The bill returns to the Senate for a vote on the House’s amendment.

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