Virginia State Police are no longer making public a database of permit holders of concealed handguns after the attorney general said yesterday that it should be off-limits to citizens.
The database, according to an advisory opinion released by Attorney General Bob McDonnell, was put together solely as an investigative tool and therefore is an exception to the state Freedom of Information Act requiring public access to many government documents......
....Although an attorney general's opinion does not have the weight of law, state police are treating the opinion as advice from their attorney, Geller said.
McDonnell issued the opinion at the request of Del. David A. Nutter, R-Montgomery, who said he was inundated with calls last month from constituents who were angry that The Roanoke Times obtained the database from state police and published it online.
The database contains the name and addresses of more than 135,000 Virginians. Readers and gun owners across the state assailed the newspaper, claiming that publication of the database invaded gun owners' privacy. They also said it may have exposed the names of crime victims, revealed the addresses of abused spouses and told burglars which homes have weapons.
Nutter said he intends to introduce legislation next year putting the database off-limits to the public -- effectively putting McDonnell's opinion into law. Information about permit holders of concealed weapons would still be available for inspection at courthouses across the state under Nutter's bill, he said.