Cole County Sheriff Greg White is among those who believe changes taking effect next week will improve Missouri's conceal and carry laws.
Sheriff departments will take control of issuing new concealed-carry weapon (CCW) permits and renewals, completely removing the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) from the process.
The new law says those applying for a new conceal-carry permit, or renewal of an existing CCW permit, should submit the required fees and paperwork to the sheriff of the county in which they reside.
Upon completion of the required background checks, successful applicants will be issued a CCW permit by the sheriff.
Under the new law, Missouri's new CCW permits contain the name, address, date of birth, gender, height, weight, hair and eye color and signature of the holder.
"We were doing the leg work anyway," the Cole County sheriff said Thursday. "This simplifies the process for our patrons and will assure the safety of their information."
Previously, a person seeking to carry a concealed firearm had to apply with the local sheriff for a certificate of qualification for the concealed-carry endorsement.
After that certificate was issued, the person had to present it to the DOR (or the local licensing office overseen by the DOR), which issued a driver's license or non-driver's license with a concealed carry endorsement.
Starting Wednesday, the permit issued by the sheriff authorizes the person to carry concealed firearms.
The DOR fell under criticism earlier this year when the department allegedly shared CCW information with federal investigators.
The Associated Press reported in May that the department compiled the list of permit holders at the request of the state Highway Patrol, which had agreed to assist a federal agent investigating Social Security fraud.
Republicans called the list-sharing an invasion of privacy, but the Highway Patrol said it was a legal exchange of information between law enforcement officials.
Federal agent Keith Schilb told a Senate panel earlier this year that he had not been able to access the list of Missouri permit holders because of technical problems.
"For instance, I couldn't do an inquiry of, "Who are all the CCW holders on the east side of Cole County,'" he said. "I have no way of pulling that data."
The new law also allows CCW permits issued Aug. 28 and after to be valid for five years instead of three.
Any CCW permits which have not been renewed after six months will be voided. A change of name, change of address, or lost or stolen permits all will need to be reported to the sheriff.
Upon notification, the sheriff will issue a new permit with updated information for a $10 fee.
"For years, every ounce of authority of the sheriff, police and other law enforcement has been based on the authority of citizens and never have I been afraid of a good citizen," White said.
Permits that were issued before Aug. 28 will be valid until their expiration date, at which time the holder will need to renew their CCW permit with the sheriff of the county in which they reside, according to the new law.
Original application fees for a CCW permit cannot exceed $100 and renewal fees are $50. Plus, those renewing their CCW permit still must go through the required background check each time, as was before this change.
"I assume everyone is armed, whether or not they are I'm going to treat people as though they are," White said. "Most firearm crimes are not committed by those with conceal and carry permits."