JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KMOX) – It was revealed in Missouri Senate testimony Thursday morning that the Missouri State Highway Patrol has twice handed over to federal officials information regarding concealed carry permits in the state.
The revelation validates the concerns of many Republican state legislators who have warned of the “gun list” for longer than a month.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) has led the charge against the Missouri Department of Revenue and others over the list. He said in a press release that the Highway Patrol “asked for and received the full list from the state Division of Motor Vehicle and Driver Licensing.”
According to Schaefer, the list contains 185,000 names and “had been put online in one instance and given to the patrol on a disc in January.”
Col. Ron Replogle with the Highway Patrol underwent nearly an hour of testimony Thursday morning in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. Replogle testified that a Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General agent received the discs but was not able to read encrypted data and then destroyed the discs.
“They said no names were retrieved,” Replogle told the committee this morning, according to the Columbia Tribune. “They do not have those names. They did not disseminate that information, and all that information has been destroyed. We have asked for that documentation of what has happened.”
In Hazelwood to tour storm damage Thursday, Governor Jay Nixon was asked by reporters if he knew of the gun list.
“We’re following the laws as written by the state and federal level. I signed a law a few years ago saying what we do and we follow those,” Nixon said.
Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka), a guest on Thursday’s “Mark Reardon Show,” criticized the governor for his response. “Say it like it is and let’s get to the facts.”
“This issue did not come from Senator Kurt Schaefer, it didn’t come from me,” Jones said. “It actually came from a citizen in southeast Missouri.”
The gun list was the subject of a lawsuit in southeast Stoddard County, Missouri. Attorney Russel Oliver represented Eric Griffin who he says passed the concealed carry background check, completed the safety course, and then went to the fee office to have his endorsement stamped on his driver’s license. That’s when he was told his documents would have to first be scanned and sent to a third-party server.
“We believe that is a new and illegal hurdle to someone who is trying to exercise their Second Amendment right to a concealed carry permit,” Oliver told KMOX News last month. “There’s concerns about this information getting to the federal government and the current tenor and tone in Washington about gun control gives a lot of people pause.”
“They are violating state statutes,” Jones said Thursday. “They are violating state statutes in collecting this source information, in forwarding it to another outside agency.”
Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich announced Wednesday that he would audit the Department of Revenue to find out if personal information from driver’s licenses and concealed gun applications was being shared with the federal government. His audit came at the request of over a dozen senators, including Schaefer.
“Their concern is some information in documents they’ve received that maybe there is some sharing of the information,” Schweich said.
Aware that the probe could resemble a partisan undertaking, Schweich says he’s not doing the audit for the Republican Party.
“We’re just going to find the right answers. There’s no partisanship in this, at all,” Schweich said.
The gun list issue was first raised in early March when Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder told KMOX News that the Missouri Department of Revenue was illegally sharing information on concealed gun permit applicants with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“We’re trying to get answers from the Governor and he’s stonewalling us,” Kinder said at the time. “Missourians have a right to know where this policy came from.”
Rep. Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany) said gun owners were worried that the compiling of a list of concealed carry owners could eventually be used to confiscate guns.
“It’s exactly what they would need to target whoever they want to go after with guns,” Guernsey said last month. “There’s no other reason why you would need a list.”
“It’s not conspiratorial,” House Speaker Jones said Thursday on KMOX, “but it is Big Brother.”