CAPE GIRARDEAU — Some of the state's smallest counties aren't prepared to issue concealed-carry permits, even though a law giving them that responsibility took effect last week.
Small, third-class counties are the ones affected, the Southeast Missourian reported. Bollinger County Sheriff Darin Shell said small counties like his are waiting to receive grant money from the Missouri Sheriffs' Association to purchase software that allows them to issue the permits.
"It's kind of put all of us third-class counties in a bad position," he said.
County sheriffs already had the responsibility of receiving concealed-carry applications, reviewing applicants' backgrounds and issuing paper permits. But before, recipients took the paper permits to a local licensing office overseen by the Department of Revenue to receive a card noting their concealed-carry status. That job is now in the hands of the sheriff's office.
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 from being shared again.
The list had been created at the request of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which 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.
Small counties hope the delay in issuing concealed-carry permits shouldn't last long. Shell said the Bollinger County Sheriff's Office should be ready to issue concealed-carry permits by the end of the year.
"Until then, we're not really prepared," Shell said, adding that there is a "gray area" in the law about who is responsible for issuing permits from now until the end of the year.
Shell said that until the office receives the grant money allowing it to complete the permitting process in the office, it will operate as usual by handling concealed-carry permit paperwork and then sending applicants to the Department of Revenue to have a permit issued.
"Once we get the grant money, we will be up and going pretty quickly," Shell said.