I always like to look for nonobvious interactions between legal fields that interest me, such as copyright and guns (yes, there are some, related to legal liability for distribution of dual-use products). In this post, I want to ask about the intersection of privacy law and firearms regulation policy:
Say that state or federal law requires people to register their gun ownership (as some states do) or register their sales or purchases of guns (as federal law does for transactions involving a licensed gun dealer, though the records are kept by the dealer rather than in a central government database). Should these records be available to the public?
Say that state law requires people to get a license to carry a concealed gun (or for that matter to carry a gun at all). Should these records be available to the public, as they are in some states?
Some bans on concealed carry of guns are defended on the grounds that people remain free to carry guns to protect themselves -- they just have to do so openly, in a holster. (This was a common argument in the 1800s, when concealed carry bans were first instituted, and remains both (1) a sometimes-heard policy argument and (2) a constitutional argument under those state constitutions that secure a right to keep and bear guns in self-defense.) And indeed you can defend yourself pretty much as well with an openly carried gun as with a concealed carry gun (there are pluses and minuses to open carry, but on balance the purely functional difference isn't that vast) -- but only if you're willing to let everyone around you know that you're armed, something that many people are reluctant to do. Is the requirement of open carry an impermissible burden on people's privacy?
I'm particularly interested in the views of those people who are sympathetic to gun controls -- and especially in limits on concealed carry -- but also see themselves as supporters of privacy.