Cole Co. Sheriff: New concealed-carry process will protect privacy

Cole County Sheriff Greg White told reporters Thursday Missourians with concealed-carry permits will not need to worry about their records getting released en masse.

Under a new law taking effect on Aug. 28, Missouri's county sheriffs will be responsible for issuing concealed-carry permits to those who qualify. Current state law puts the application review process in the sheriffs' hands, but anyone applying for a permit has to have an endorsement added to their drivers' license by the Missouri Department of Revenue once they receive a concealed-carry certificate from their sheriff. The new law removes the DOR from the process so that the county sheriffs issue the actual document authorizing a Missouri resident to carry a concealed weapon.

The change in Missouri's concealed carry law came after revelations this spring that the DOR had handed over a database containing the names of all of Missouri's concealed-carry permit holders to the Missouri State Highway Patrol in response to a Social Security Administration inquiry. MSHP gave the SSA the database on two separate occasions, though SSA agents told a senate committee in April they were unable to read the database and destroyed the disc containing it each time.

White said considering the county sheriffs were already doing the legwork in approving an application, they should have been the ones issuing permits from the beginning. He said the new record system will allow him to perform individual name searches, but nobody will be able to generate entire lists of permit holders.

"For instance, I couldn't do an inquiry of, 'Who are all the CCW holders on the east side of Cole County," he said. "I have no way of pulling that data."

Under the new law, the only data that will be stored about CCW holders is the data appearing on their card, including their names and addresses and signatures from both them and their sheriff. The cards will not include a photograph of the bearer. The new law forbids the collection of any biometric data about the bearers besides fingerprints and also requires sheriffs to consult the National Instant Criminal Background Check System when reviewing applications, something that is not in Missouri's current CCW law. White said this new requirement is a computer inquiry and adds little additional burden to his office.

White said his and all other sheriffs' offices will print permits on cardstock until they obtain card printers. He said in the meantime, permit holders may laminate their cardstock cards to protect them if they wish, though he added he doubted the cards would the five years for which they would be valid.