Jul 26, 2013 10:00 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - The Associated Press isn't giving reasons for requesting the personal information of all conceal carry permit holders in Montana.
On March 18, 2013, the AP requested a comprehensive list of information from the office of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox (R).
"Everything from their date of birth to their driver's license to their address, every piece of information without limitation," Fox explained in an interview with MTN News.
The request came just five days after the Montana Legislature passed a bill which makes all this information confidential.
The bill was signed by Governor Steve Bullock (D) ten days later and goes into effect October 1, 2013.
Fox says it doesn't matter that the law wasn't effective at the time of the request.
"The constitutional provisions are on the books and they have been on the books at least since 1972," Fox explains. "I balanced the right to know, which we have in our Constitution, with the right to privacy."
And Fox says the permit holders' right to privacy trumps the public's right to know.
"Montanans have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they apply for a conceal weapon permit," Fox said. "Most of them, if not all of them, have a reason they want that information kept private."
The AP isn't answering questions about why the organization wanted the information and email correspondence between Fox's office, and the AP doesn't indicate why.
The AP's bureau chief, Jim Clarke, says his organization does not comment on reporting efforts. HZowever, this isn't the first time a news organization has requested this type of information.
The Journal News in New York received this type of information from the state in 2012, and published a map showing the locations of every handgun owner in two New York counties.
That incident gained national attention and sparked outrage from gun owners across the U.S.