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Pistol permit privacy is retroactive, AG says

A new privacy law to protect the identities of Virginians seeking concealed handgun permits covers past applicants as well as new applicants, according to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Circuit court clerks, who maintain records of CHPs in Virginia, must “withhold from public disclosure” the names and other details of permit applicants, even those filed before the July 1 effective date of the new law, Cuccinelli said.  Clerks also must block access to court orders granting permits, whether maintained electronically or in “Order Books,” according to the AG’s opinion.

Clerks are required to comply regardless of the lack of funding from the state, Cuccinelli said in his July 12 official opinion requested by Caroline County Circuit Court Clerk Ray S. Campbell Jr.

The result will likely be that all order books will be “coming off the shelves and going behind the counter,” said Suffolk Circuit Court Clerk Randy Carter, president of the Virginia Court Clerks’ Association.

Instead of lawyers and title examiners being able to look up entries in the order books themselves, they will have to ask a deputy clerk to find the records, Carter said.

“It’s going to be very cumbersome,” he said.

Carter said the clerks may seek some relief from the 2014 General Assembly regarding how far back they will have to go in protecting the privacy of permit applicants.

Update: This post was updated on July 17 to reflect the proper name of the permit: “concealed handgun permit.”


  1. They’re not called “pistol” permits…pistols are semi-automatic handguns…that’s called, properly, concealed handgun permits.

  2. They’re not called “concealed weapons permits” either, since the only weapon allowed to be carried concealed in Virginia is a handgun.

  3. I changed the reference in the body text to “concealed handgun permit,” as that is how it is stated in the Virginia Code. I left the headline as is, since it was intended to refer to the colloquial expression, “pistol permit.”

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