The number of applications and permits awarded for Missouri Conceal and Carry Firearms permits has been growing steadily over the past months in Johnson County.
With the increase in applications, comes an increase in required paperwork not only for the Sheriff’s Office, but for local Department of Revenue offices as well. The situation also has caused an increase in scrutiny for these offices stemming from a lawsuit filed a few weeks ago in Southeast Missouri. A man has sued after being told by a license office in his area that it would make digital copies of documents needed for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. His lawsuit states that the Missouri Department of Revenue has allegedly been compiling data on Missouri residents seeking concealed carry permits and then forwarding it to a third party with ties to the federal government.
Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder held a press conference recently and revealed the lawsuit had been filed to fight the action and prevent any violation of Americans’ privacy. The lawsuit was filed by Stoddard County prosecuting attorney Russ Oliver on behalf of Missouri resident Eric Griffin. Oliver filed the lawsuit as a private attorney.
“I fully support Mr. Oliver in this important legal action in Stoddard County Circuit Court,” Kinder said “The case has issues of statewide importance implicating serious privacy concerns for law-abiding citizens. These folks have followed the letter of the law and have been approved for concealed carry by the proper authorities. They must not be required to share that information with any third parties or the federal government.”
The issue was brought to light after Griffin went to his local Department of Motor Vehicles fee office after passing the application process for a concealed carry gun permit. Oliver says Griffin refused to let DMV employees scan and store some of his documentation — so he was denied his permit.
The Missouri Department of Revenue reportedly installed new computer equipment that records certain information as a part of the federal Real ID Act of 2005, according to Oliver. The equipment is the result oif a reported grant that allowed the agency to utilize and operate the equipment with funding. State laws prohibit the department from retaining and forwarding certain information. The information that was compiled by the DOR was reportedly being forwarded to Morpho Trust, U.S.A., a Georgia company that “specializes in partnering with state and federal governmental agencies. There are important privacy concerns for concealed carry holders who justly fear their information is being sent to a third party or the federal government,” Oliver said. “Missouri law makes it clear that what is going on here is illegal, and serves no legitimate purpose since the county sheriff is solely charged with the duty of determining applicants’ eligibility for endorsement.”
A trial judge issued a temporary restraining order over the practice the same day the lawsuit was filed. Oliver said the order is limited to the Stoddard County license office.
A Revenue Department spokesman said the agency follows the law.
Locally, Johnson County Sheriff Chuck Heiss has heard an increase in questions about the matter. He states that “We need to remember that this is not an issue with our local office, or the Department of Revenue offices in our County, but comes from the ‘higher ups’ in the State. and all questions or concerns with that issue should be directed to the State Department of Revenue Office in Jefferson City at 573-751-4450 and not taken up with the local offices directly.”
Applicants are directed by law to come to the Department of Revenue to apply for a license with the Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) endorsement within seven days after receiving their Concealed Carry Certificate of Qualification from the Sheriff‘s Office.