Missouri sheriffs would print gun permits under bill sent to Gov. Nixon

Thursday, May 16, 2013 | 8:39 p.m. CDT; updated 9:01 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 16, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's county sheriffs would become responsible for printing concealed weapons permits instead of the state Revenue Department under legislation sent to the governor Thursday.

County sheriffs already have the responsibility of receiving concealed-carry applications, reviewing applicants' backgrounds and issuing paper permits. But under current law, recipients take the paper permits to a local licensing office overseen by the Department of Revenue to receive a photo ID card noting their concealed-carry status.

The Senate voted 24-5 Thursday to send the measure to Gov. Jay Nixon. It cleared the House late Wednesday night.

Republican lawmakers began pushing for the legislation after learning the Revenue Department compiled a list of gun permit holders that was shared with a federal agent in the Social Security Administration. That revelation came during an investigation into the department's new licensing procedures, which require applicants' documents to be scanned into a state computer system.

The bill's supporters said removing the Revenue Department from the gun permitting process could prevent the list of holders from being shared again.

"We don't have a central collection point anymore, so it is more difficult to give it up and probably the most important thing is that the sheriffs were already doing all this stuff anyway," said Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla.

The department compiled the list of permit holders at the request of the state Highway Patrol who had agreed to assist a federal agent investigating Social Security fraud. Republicans called the list-sharing an invasion of privacy, but the Highway Patrol said it was a legal exchange of information between law enforcement officials. The federal agent, Keith Schilb, told a Senate panel earlier this year that he had not been able to access the list of Missouri permit holders because of technical problems.

Lawmakers gave a sheriffs' taskforce $2 million in next year's operating budget to help them begin the process of printing the permits. The Missouri Sheriffs' Association said it would take over the responsibility of printing the licenses as long as it had state funding.

Under the legislation, Missouri's new concealed weapons permits will contain the name, address, date of birth, gender, height, weight, hair and eye color, and signature of the holder. Applicants would be required to show a state-issued photo ID when applying for the permit but photos won't be on the license.

The legislation would also require school personnel to undergo training sponsored by law enforcement on responding to an intruder in school buildings and would give school districts the option to teach a National Rifle Association-sponsored program to first graders.

It includes another provision that would allow teachers and other school personnel to take active shooter response training as part of their employee training. Although the training is optional, Brown said many school districts are already adopting similar guidelines.

One Democrat voted against the bill as a "protest" and said the legislature should not be focusing on firearms legislation.

"I am totally against any gun bills right now. ... We spend way too much time on talking about guns this session," said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis.

The Republican-led legislature already sent Nixon a gun bill earlier this year that would declare all federal gun control laws unenforceable within the state. It would also allow designated school personnel to carry concealed weapons in school buildings after undergoing training and lower the minimum age required to get a concealed gun permit to 19.

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