A report in the Columbia Daily Tribune has uncovered two instances in the past 16 months of Missouri State Police handing over to the Federal government a database that shares the identity of every registered concealed carry permit holder in the State.
They did it without notifying any of the permit holders, and they did it in violation of the law. In Missouri, residents’ concealed carry permit information is stored along with their driver license records; and Missouri law doesn’t allow even the State police to pull more than one resident’s information at a time — and certainly not en masse.
According to the Tribune’s report, 185,000 Missourians can now thank their State police for being known to the Feds as concealed carry owners of firearms — if they ever even learn their information was handed over freely. Not everybody reads the papers.
Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaeffer discovered the data dump after repeatedly quizzing revenue officials as part of a wider investigation into a new driver licensing system. Although an outraged Schaeffer has pledged to grill police officials about why they shared the information, no one has seen a written record that traces the Feds’ request for it back to the source.
Schaeffer told the Tribune the information appeared to have been requested by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, so that the agency could see which of its beneficiaries with mental diagnoses also had concealed carry permits.
That’s abhorrent, said Schaeffer:
When they turn over the entire list of concealed carry holders in the state of Missouri to the federal government, where is it going? I want to know who all was involved in this transaction because if this is just some phone call saying give me the list of all concealed carry holders, how did the person at the patrol who fulfilled that request know who was at the other end of the phone? How did they know where to send it? How did they know what it was being used for?
Before the list reached the Feds, it had to pass through the hands of State police officials. The driver licensing database where the names are stored isn’t supposed to be configured in such a way that all the names can be extracted and subsequently copied, all at once, in a single “batch.” But, admitted a State police official, that’s exactly what happened — and it wasn’t an accident. It happened twice, “for law enforcement investigative purposes,” as a police captain admitted to the newspaper.
“Now we know… the department is actively and purposefully concealing that information from us,” observed State Senator Joseph Schaaf.
If it’s a crime in Missouri to disclose the names of concealed weapons permit holders, then who inside the public safety office or the department of revenue or any other State agency with potential access to these names is likely to face any criminal reprimand? Or are government officials immune from perpetrating crimes against their constituents?
Just ask supposed “hacker” and private citizen Aaron Swartz, whom the Feds harangued with a prosecution that would have led to decades’ worth of prison time.
Why? For using computers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to download millions of academic articles from a nonprofit database service. There was never a clear-cut crime prosecutors could hang on Swartz; he hadn’t culled any personal information, and he hadn’t stolen anything. He sure as heck hadn’t betrayed the trust of 185,000 individuals whose Constitutional powers he’d agreed to protect.
Swartz is dead, by the way, having hanged himself before his Federal trial. But imagine if Swartz had accessed the Missouri database and given these gun owners’ names away — even to a government agency — surreptitiously. Would he just get away with a strong talking to? Would you?