by Sam Levin
The legislative session in Missouri is finally over. And after months of heated debates on guns, lawmakers have sent controversial bills to the governor that would dramatically change the concealed-carry permit application process -- and increase protections for gun owners.
That is, these bills make it easier for residents to get gun permits in the state and eliminate a major record-keeping component of the current process. The GOP is now celebrating these successful legislative feats, passed in the name of protecting the privacy of gun owners. As we've reported, critics say this pro-privacy agenda could actually make Missouri more vulnerable to fraud, terrorism and other criminal activity.
If the governor were to sign these bills, how would gun laws change in the state?
For starters, Senate Bill 75 would reform the concealed-carry process so that local sheriffs would solely handle the permit approvals, and the state license bureau would not be involved.
This move in part derives from an intense backlash against the Missouri Department of Revenue's licensing agency for allegedly scanning, retaining -- and shipping off to outside organizations and to the feds -- personal information of those seeking concealed-carry permits. The shift in the process, Republican supporters say, ensures that Missourians will not end up on some gun-control-inspired gun registry organized by Democratic governor Jay Nixon in cooperation with the White House.
Eliminating the department of revenue from this process, as we've noted, means that the permit application will be quicker, with the removal of a final step involving an endorsement at the state level.
"This is an important change in the CCW process...with the goal of preventing the state revenue department from ever again sharing the personal information of permit holders with the federal government," State Representative Eric Burlison, a Springfield Republican, says in a statement sent out by the Missouri GOP. "This is a common-sense change that empowers our sheriffs to not only issue a certificate of qualification for a permit, but to actually take sole responsibility for the process by issuing permits. It's a move that will give the people of Missouri confidence that the process will not violate their rights."
These two bills combined, it seems, would ensure that officials at the state level would not have lists of those with gun permits and would not have records on file relating to these applicants.
State Senator Kurt Schaefer, a Republican from Columbia, praises the passage of SB 75 as a move to eliminate unneeded bureaucracy from the gun process.
"SB 75 is an important piece of legislation that will streamline the conceal carry process, while removing unnecessary bureaucracy from the process by allowing Missouri's sheriff department to handle the permits," he says in a statement. "This process is ideal to ensuring each individual's privacy is protected."
Senator Dan Brown, a Republican from Rolla, hopes that SB75 -- which he sponsored and initially earned him national mockery -- would also encourage school districts to create "active shooting training programs."
Debates around armed teachers and gun training for students, it seems, were somewhat drowned out by discussions of gun owner privacy in Missouri, but the version of this bill on the governor's desk does encourage gun safety and intruder-response lessons in classrooms. It also says, "School personnel and program instructors shall not make value judgments about firearms."
Continue for more on the GOP's successful gun bills in Missouri this session.
Meanwhile, the governor will also have to weigh in on the the Second Amendment Preservation Act, House Bill 436, which has a section on armed teachers that MSNBC's Rachel Maddow slammed earlier this month.
That part of the bill requires teachers designated by a school district as "school protection officers" to carry firearms at all times on school property. *(Clarification, thanks to a reader: The bill does not mandate that schools or districts designate protection officers in the first place. It is voluntary. If teachers are protection officers, they must, however, carry their firearms on them at all times).
Rep. Stacey Newman, a Democrat who has vocally opposed the Republican gun agenda this session, tells Daily RFT that, by her count, the legislature put forward a whopping total of 23 pro-gun, "NRA bills" in addition to three proposed amendments to the constitution that would strengthen gun rights in some way. This is in the House and Senate combined, but does not include various pro-gun amendments tacked onto other bills not directly related to firearms.
Conversely, she says there were a total of three gun control bills introcued, including one of her own.
They went nowhere.
Here's a Missouri GOP press release sent out on Friday praising one of the successful gun bills.
Missouri Passes Legislation to Reform Concealed Carry Process
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Following the admission of Governor Jay Nixon's office that his officials at the Department of Revenue had sent data on concealed carry holders to Obama officials in the federal government, the Missouri House and Senate passed SB 75. The bill gives each Sheriff in every county the duty to handle conceal and carry permits.
"This is an important change in the CCW process that Senator Dan Brown and I have worked on with the goal of preventing the state revenue department from ever again sharing the personal information of permit holders with the federal government," said State Representative Eric Burlison (R-Springfield). "This is a common sense change that empowers our sheriffs to not only issue a certificate of qualification for a permit, but to actually take sole responsibility for the process by issuing permits. It's a move that will give the people of Missouri confidence that the process will not violate their rights."
State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R - Columbia), who helped lead in this fight, stated, "SB 75 is an important piece of legislation that will streamline the conceal carry process, while removing unnecessary bureaucracy from the process by allowing Missouri's sheriff department to handle the permits. This process is ideal to ensuring each individual's privacy is protected."
Thanks to the leadership of the House and Senate, SB 75 strikes a good balance in both reforming and respecting the current protections that the current process helped ensure. This is why the $100 application fee will remain the same, and permits will be good for five years. To enhance current safeguards, SB 75 also adds an additional background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is seen as the most comprehensive background check available. By using NICS, Missouri will continue to be a leader nationally in Mental Health Record Submission.
"SB 75 was a bill that was filed one day before the Sandy Hook tragedy because of my concern for what I believe to be an epidemic of active shooters in our schools. Unfortunately, we had to expand the scope of the bill to remove the issuing of concealed carry weapons permits from the Department of Revenue because of the lack of respect for the most basic privacy expectations Missourians deserve. My hope would be that this bill will encourage school districts to create active shooting training programs so that teachers will know how to save lives in the event of such a tragedy, prevent accidental gun deaths through education, and protect Missourians from having their personal information shared by the Department of Revenue," said State Senator Dan Brown (R-Rolla).
If signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon, the duty of issuing concealed carry permits will be transferred to each individual Sheriff department by December 31st. The Department of Revenue will begin the transition process on August 28th to ensure a seamless transition.
"With the governor's signature, this bill will make the process of obtaining a CCW permit far less burdensome and far more secure," said Burlison. "I thank my colleagues for giving such strong support to this change and Senator Brown for working with me throughout the session to move this change through the process and into law."
And here are the final copies of the three pro-gun proposals discussed in this article, now on the governor's desk.