The concealed carry muzzle

Joe Blow has a concealed carry permit.

If I were in Louisiana, that sentence could put me in jail.

The Louisiana Senate is set to pass House Bill 8, which states:

It shall be unlawful for any person other than an employee of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections or a law enforcement officer to release, disseminate, or make public in any manner any information contained in an application for a concealed handgun permit or any information regarding the identity of any person who applied for or received a concealed handgun permit issued pursuant to this Section. Any person who violates the provisions of this Subparagraph shall be fined ten thousand dollars and may be imprisoned for not more than six months.

Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy isn’t buying it:

This is a clear First Amendment violation. Florida Star v. B.J.F. (1989) struck down a law banning the publication of the names of rape victims, once the information was released by the police (even when it was released in violation of department policy). This statute is thus unconstitutionally overbroad, because it has no exception for these kinds of erroneous-release situations. But even if the statute were limited to exclude information gleaned from public records, it would still be unconstitutional: It would be a content-based restriction on speech. It would apply to speech about crime, lawsuits, threats to public safety, and other matters of public concern.

And while in theory even such content-based speech restrictions might be constitutional if they are “narrowly tailored” to a “compelling government interest,” this test has rightly been extremely hard to satisfy (consider Florida Star itself). Indeed, one reason our free speech protections are so strong is that courts have been extremely hesitant to uphold speech restrictions under this test. They are thus very likely to strike down the statute — and if they do uphold it, the precedent would risk undermining free speech protection more broadly. The Second Amendment (or, to be precise, the desire to keep confidential people’s exercise of their gun rights) shouldn’t be a basis for undermining the First Amendment.