Sheriff asks about resident outrage

Even as Gov. Jay Nixon was announcing his policy change — that the Revenue department no longer would copy and keep concealed weapons license information — Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman said several Missouri sheriffs “may be filing complaints against” the state.

“It has come to my attention that the State of Missouri may have violated the law by providing the federal government with records of concealed weapon permit holders of Maries County,” Heitman said in a Tuesday afternoon news release. “Missouri State Law clearly prohibits anyone from disseminating any records pertaining to conceal weapon permit holders.”

Missouri’s concealed carry law says county sheriffs take the initial application for a concealed weapons permit, which must include information showing the applicant has completed a firearms safety training course.

The sheriff’s staff takes an applicant’s fingerprints and sends those to the Highway Patrol.

Cole County Sheriff Greg White said if the patrol reports the applicant isn’t a fugitive or a criminal suspect, or isn’t banned from owning a concealed weapon because of a previous felony, the sheriff issues a certificate of qualification.

The state law says: “The sheriff shall report the issuance of a certificate of qualification to the Missouri uniform law enforcement system,” generally known as MULES.

But, Heitman told the News Tribune: “Nowhere does (state law) say that the federal or state government shall have a record.

“I believe the state has overstepped its bounds on this.”

Patrol Superintendent Ron Replogle said Monday he wasn’t happy with the way his staff handled the federal request for the concealed weapons records, but he doesn’t think any laws were broken because other law enforcement agencies — including the federal government — have access to the MULES system.

Heitman’s original news release noted the state concealed carry law says a person’s certificate and permit are to “be considered personal protected information,” and that disclosing license information is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in a county jail.

He ended his release with an invitation: “If you wish to file a complaint against the State of Missouri for possibly releasing your confidential information to the federal government, please come to the Maries County Sheriff’s Office and complete a complaint form.”

People who wish to contact Heitman can call him at 573-422-3381.

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