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.
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