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Eric Griffin, a Stoddard County resident, didn't think it was right -- when he went to a license office with his birth certificate, residency documents and conceal-carry permit application -- that the clerk at the counter wanted to scan those documents.
It stands to reason, though it was never expressly reported this way, that Griffin figured he had provided the paperwork needed to prove he was who he said he was and the state had no reason to scan his information for long-term record-keeping or to share with anyone else. His observation and resistance -- in the form of a lawsuit filed in early March -- to this method sparked a statewide controversy, which would lead to a series of confounding statements and circuslike flip-flopping from some of our state's top bureaucratic leaders.
The questions that came from Griffin's suit were simple and straightforward. Why does the state need this information, and what does it do with it? Was the information being passed on to the federal government? The answers were anything but simple and straightforward.
Many people believe the federal government possessing information on gun owners and permit holders violates the spirit of the law and constitution.
State representatives initially were assured by Missouri Department of Revenue director Brian Long in very certain terms that no information was given to any federal government agency. The public was told the information was being sent to a private Atlanta company hired by Missouri to ensure authenticity.
Then the public learned the information was given to the Social Security Administration by the Missouri State Highway Patrol in 2011 to cross-check those receiving mental health benefits.
Then the public was told there was no reason for alarm because the feds couldn't access the information on the disk, and the information was destroyed at the federal level. Later we learned the Social Security Administration made a second request in January, then successfully accessed the disk but found the information was not what they wanted and destroyed it a second time. But we also heard reports that the Social Security Administration did not gain access to the second disk and had to destroy it without ever receiving the information. A correction was issued by the Social Security Administration after a news conference.
We also learned that emails were discovered showing the ATF might have received conceal carry permit information as well. The ATF has since denied that it has ever sought the information.
What a fiasco this has been. The public's trust has been damaged in our state government. At best, people in key positions don't appear to know what is happening, where information is going and what laws must be followed.
Long resigned as a result of the information leaks and multiple communication errors. Let's hope proper oversight will commence and Missouri will discontinue the practice of scanning documents for conceal-carry permits.