BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Legislation that would make it a crime for journalists, bloggers or anyone else to publicly identify applicants for concealed handgun permits in Louisiana has been sent to a legislative compromise committee.
The House on Tuesday refused to agree to Senate changes to the proposal, sending it to a six-member conference committee instead.
Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, said he wanted time to tweak language added by senators that would allow for release of a name if the permit holder is arrested for a felony involving a gun.
Thompson said he was concerned that the amendment by Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, could cause the "inadvertent" release of a person's information.
"I want to maintain the integrity of the information, especially the addresses and the names of those applying for permits," Thompson said. "I want to make sure that we get the language right. I want to do it right, not in a hurry."
The bill would make it a misdemeanor to release or publish the names or addresses of permit owners and would carry a $10,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Thompson's proposal came in response to an online map produced by a New York newspaper shortly after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting that included a clickable list of gun owners and their addresses.
Critics said the law violates First Amendment protections governing freedom of the press and prohibiting prior restraint to publishing factual information.
Thompson argued that releasing and publishing such information makes the gun owners burglary targets and could endanger victims of violence seeking to hide their locations from an assailant.
Thompson said he expects to get the language worked out and bring the bill back up for a vote by next week. The regular session ends June 6.
Meanwhile, the House gave final passage to another proposal allowing off-duty law enforcement officers to carry weapons on school campuses. It heads to the governor's desk.