The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 18, 2013

Our View: Breach of public trust

The Joplin Globe

— State lawmakers have been spending an increasing amount of time and attention looking for answers to questions about the gathering of information on Missouri residents, particularly those who have sought conceal-carry weapons permits.

The controversy reached a crescendo with the resignation Monday of the director of the Missouri Department of Revenue and an announcement Tuesday by Gov. Jay Nixon that the department will no longer maintain electronic copies of conceal-carry records.

The department oversees the driver’s license bureau, which issues endorsements on the driver’s license or a separate ID after conceal-carry permits have been approved by county sheriffs.

Republican lawmakers criticized actions by the department, which had provided conceal-carry lists that were turned over by the Missouri State Highway Patrol at the request of an investigator for the Social Security Administration. The federal agency said it destroyed the disk after not being able to read it, but lawmakers raised new concerns after hearing that the information request allegedly was a joint venture with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF on Wednesday denied being a party to the request.

House Speaker Tim Jones and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer, both Republicans, came to Carthage on Monday to criticize actions by Nixon and to call for an investigation by Attorney General Chris Koster, both Democrats.

They also emphasized that conceal-carry records are strictly confidential. That secrecy is required by state law and “is part of Second Amendment protections,” Jones said.

We are concerned that the records were turned over en masse. It’s a clear breach of the public trust. And the public deserves answers.

If the goal of the Social Security Administration was to compare those conceal-carry permits against a list of people receiving federal benefits because of mental health problems, asking for all the conceal-carry records was not the right way to get answers.