Montana’s Attorney General Tim Fox has taken a stand against revealing the identities of concealed weapon permit holders.

All 50 states now have laws permitting qualified individuals to own and carry concealed firearms. But emotions have flared over identifying all those as a class.

A firestorm of controversy erupted last winter when a suburban New York newspaper, citing the public’s right to know, published the names and addresses of all licensed handgun owners in Rockland and Westchester counties.

Its coverage, in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. school shootings, included an interactive map allowing online readers to zoom in and see each individual holder and their address.

“One of our roles,” said Janet Hasson, president of the Journal News Media Group, “is to report publicly available information on timely issues, even when unpopular.”

Gun rights advocates oppose such publication, alleging it treats law-abiding citizens as criminals, much like convicted sex offenders whose addresses are widely published. In light of the New York case, in fact, the Louisiana legislature earlier this summer enacted legislation making it a crime to publish the name of a concealed weapon permitee.

And, they claim, listing those with legal possession of firearms aids criminals by identifying those with weapons — and, by omission, those without such self-defense protection.