Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has issued a letter instructing state police to release the names of authorized gun owners in Illinois to the press, the Associated Press is reporting. State police had initially denied the AP's request for a list of Illinois residents with a Firearm Owners Identification card on the grounds that disclosing the names would violate the privacy of gun owners. The wire service explains that police officials have not indicated whether they will comply with Madigan's ruling, and that there are currently Republican-sponsored bills in the Illinois House and Senate that would prohibit disclosing this kind of information.
The news comes less than two weeks after the New York Times obtained the names of more than 37,000 people licensed to own handguns in New York City from the New York Police Department after filing a Public Records Act request and a lawsuit. The police department handed over names and ZIP codes but left out street addresses, retired police officers, and city residents with licenses for long guns like shotguns and rifles. In an article and infographic, the Times noted that its database revealed "a remarkable, if relatively small, cross-section of New Yorkers" including "boldface names" like Fox News president Roger Ailes, actor Robert De Niro, and businessman Donald Trump. The newspaper said that some of the gun owners it contacted "were irked to learn they would be included in an article based on the public records." One can only assume Illinois residents will feel the same way.