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Bill keeps concealed handgun owners list secretAssociated PressAUSTIN -- The names of concealed handgun license holders would be kept secret under legislation given preliminary approval today by the Texas House. The bill by Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, R-Lampasas, passed on a voice vote after no debate. A final vote was expected next week. Under current law, the Department of Public Safety must disclose whether an individual holds a concealed handgun license to any person submitting a written request and a $5 fee. Hupp has said the system allows potential criminals to determine whether a victim is licensed to carry a handgun. "We have had some stalking cases, which that's frightening somebody can find out whether or not you're armed," she told The Associated Press earlier this session. "The fact is, it's nobody else's business. We wanted to re-establish confidentiality, but we maintained law enforcement's ability to access information," she said. The bill was supported by the National Rifle Association and the Texas State Rifle Association. Opponents believe the proposal will result in hiding the identities of those who are packing heat. Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, says the legislation is just one of many attempts this session to limit the public's access to information. Donnis Baggett, publisher and editor of the Bryan-College Station Eagle, agreed. He said he was disappointed in the House, particularly because there was no debate about a bill he called scary. "Texas has a rich history of openness in government that seems to be in danger by exceptions such as this," said Baggett, who's also vice president of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association. "If someone climbs the UT tower and starts shooting at people, we can't even check to determine if the state declared that person capable of carrying that gun," Baggett said. If the bill makes it through the Senate and is signed by Gov. Rick Perry, it also would prevent a person endangered by a stalker, for example, from finding out if the stalker is armed, Baggett said. A 1995 law allows the public to have access to information about licensed concealed handgun holders. A licensee's name, birthday, gender, race and ZIP code are subject to disclosure, and the licensee is notified by the department with the name of the person or agency that requests the information. There are 221,792 active licenses in the state. Last year 160 requests were made, about 10 from the media, according to DPS. In October 1991, Hupp watched as her parents were killed in a gun massacre along with 21 other people in a Luby's cafeteria in Killeen. Hupp then decided to run for public office to bring change in gun control laws. Shotgunworld.com
 
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