The Missouri legislature is poised to override the Governor’s veto of a wide ranging pro-gun bill. All well and good. One section of that bill (HB436) makes it illegal for the media to publish the names and addresses of gun owners. Certainly the intent is to prevent newspapers from publishing lists of law abiding permit holders for anti-gun agenda purposes. But, there might be unintended consequences. And, free speech problems. From the Missouri Press Association:
As Missouri Press has told you, the bill includes the following:
571.011.1. No person or entity shall publish the name, address, or other identifying information of any individual who owns a firearm or who is an applicant for or holder of any license, certificate, permit, or endorsement which allows such individual to own, acquire, possess, or carry a firearm.
2. For purposes of this section, “publish” means to issue information or material in printed or electronic form for distribution or sale to the public.
3. Any person or entity who violates the provisions of this section by publishing identifying information protected under this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
Let me be perfectly clear about this. This law says if you publish a person’s name (or other identifying information) and he is a gun owner, you may be prosecuted for a misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by imposition of a fine of up to $1,000.
In addition, the newspaper is fined at double any “gain” (profit) for an infraction.
So far so good? Maybe not. From the MO News Leader:
However, these provisions are so overly broad as to be ridiculous,â€ť Stoeffler said. [Stoeffler is editor of the News Leader.]
â€śFor instance, if we published the name of an accused criminal who used a gun in committing a crime, we could be guilty of violating the law. If we run a picture of a proud teenager with his trophy buck, we could be violating the law.â€ť
Indeed, other examples are given. If you are a blogger writing about a hunting or target shooting trip and mention your gun owning friends who came along, you could be fined.
Even running a classified ad to sell a firearm and giving a name and phone number could land the publishing media in trouble.
More at both links. I suspect the law needs to be rewritten.
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