Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Public CHL List

Today Instapundit reports that a Tennessee newspaper had briefly posted online, and then removed, a list of all Tennessee holders of a concealed handgun licence.

The furor was about exposing who was a "gun nut". This seems backwards to me.

There should have been furor about exposing who cannot defend themselves effectively from muggings and rape. It's fine to be unarmed. But it is a bit unnerving that a stalker could potentially follow a woman home and then check public records associated with that address (or perhaps first need to do an internet search on her address to find her name) to determine she would not have anything more dangerous than a chemical spray with which to defend herself.

(And people with a CHL have practiced with their weapon; most women who carry a chemical spray have never tested it!)

Being a mathematician, it make sense to me to go through the hassle and expense of obtaining a CHL just as a public service: the more people that have them the lower local crime rates. Lane county already has a high CHL rate. (About 10,800 concealed handgun permits, so about 4% of adults over 21, or about 7.5% of housing units.) It seemed right to do my share.

I don't know if Oregon's list is public or not. But if these lists are being publicized it seems to me like that is even more reason to be on them, whether or not you ever own a gun, especially if you are a woman who lives alone!

Tangentially, I have also learned that in Oregon having a CHL helps if you are ever pulled over within the state. The police officer will be treating you as if you potentially had a gun anyway. But with a current CHL they know you have never committed a felony and even have no misdemeanors in the past three years (information they may otherwise lack regarding your activity in other states). Since it is then much safer to assume you are not a threat, the police officer is likely to be more polite and friendly.

UPDATE: James Rummel adds another point I had not thought of since I am not a typical CHL holder. Many people who have a CHL own multiple guns. At the very least, they are more likely to do so. Thus someone looking to steal a gun could use a public list of CHL holders to identify which houses to burglarize when the homeowner is away to maximize the chance of being able to steal a gun.