RENO NEWSPAPERS v. HALEY
234 P.3d 922 (2010)
Supreme Court of Nevada.
July 1, 2010.
Residents of Washoe County may apply for a concealed firearms permit from Haley. Haley oversees the administration and regulation of concealed firearms permits, including the application process, the investigation of applicants before issuance or denial of a permit, the issuance of the permit, and, if appropriate, the suspension or revocation of a permit.
In March 2008, the RGJ received information that Haley had suspended or revoked a concealed firearms permit issued to Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons. Allegedly, the suspension or revocation was based on inaccuracies in the application that Governor Gibbons submitted. Consequently, the RGJ began publishing news articles discussing the possible suspension or revocation of Governor Gibbons's concealed firearms permit.
As part of its news coverage, a reporter with the RGJ requested all records "detailing the status of any and all [concealed firearms] permits issued by the Washoe County Sheriffs Office to Gov. Jim Gibbons," and all "documents detailing action taken by the Washoe County Sheriffs Office on that permit, including a decision to suspend, revoke, or hold the permit." The reporter acknowledged that an application for a concealed firearms permit and any investigations related to the application are confidential. However, the reporter stressed that the RGJ sought information regarding the post-application permit process and not the application.
Haley denied the RGJ's request and refused to provide any information regarding Governor Gibbons's permit. Haley claimed that the permit records are confidential under NRS 202.3662 and that public policy and the need for privacy outweighs the need for public disclosure.
The RGJ filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the district court to compel Haley to allow the RGJ to inspect and copy the requested records. Following a hearing, the district court denied the petition for a writ of mandamus. The district court determined that because NRS 202.3662 makes confidential "all information contained within [an] application [for a permit]," any records related to a suspended or revoked permit would necessarily contain information from the application. Therefore, the district court deemed the entirety of the post-application records to be confidential and denied the petition for a writ of mandamus. The RGJ appeals.DISCUSSION
In resolving this appeal, we consider whether NRS 202.3662, which makes applications for concealed firearms permits confidential, includes within its scope the identity of the permittee of a concealed firearms permit and any records of investigations, suspensions, or revocations that are generated after the permit has issued. To determine NRS 202.3662's scope, this court must first construe that statute in light of Nevada's Public Records Act.