The popularity of Shawn Harper’s conceal-carry classes has skyrocketed. He’s already gone through 39,000 rounds of ammunition this year, and it’s not unusual to see 75-plus people in a class.
“People are signing up like crazy,” he said.
More than 2,000 Buchanan County residents have taken a class like Mr. Harper offers, presented their paperwork to the sheriff’s department and received a permit to carry a concealed handgun. What these people didn’t know was that their information was going to be handed off to a federal agent, provided by a representative from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
“Disappointed and violated is probably a good word,” Mr. Harper said of how he felt when he heard about the attempted transaction. “Yes, we feel violated, but we’re also frustrated. What can we do about it? We’re powerless to do anything about it.”
Legislators are winding down the legislative session and working at a feverish pace to get their bills passed.
“We’re staring down at the finish line here, and now we’ve got this enormous situation that’s come up,” said Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany. “We’re going to have to address it. It absolutely will affect our ability to complete our agenda, both in the House and the Senate.”
The House jumped on the situation quickly and passed a bill Thursday that prohibits the Department of Revenue from retaining copies of source documents used to obtain driver’s licenses and non-driver’s licenses. People with permission to conceal-carry have that permission printed on their driver’s or nondriver’s licenses.
Mr. Guernsey said legislation got rolling earlier in the session in regard to citizens’ information being scanned and put into a database. They didn’t know the extent of the issue and it “appears to affect the privacy of Missourians much more than we ever really thought at the very beginning.”
“It’s unfortunate that we’re having to address a situation that’s already illegal. We’re having to fix it,” he said.
Rep. Galen Higdon, R-St. Joseph, said the issue has been the “hot topic” in Jefferson City.
“I was pretty much stunned,” he said of the transfer of information. “Why are they gathering this database? There are no grounds for an investigation on hundreds of thousands of citizens who have a lawful conceal-carry.
“Are they wanting to know where all the guns are in the U.S.? That concerns me greatly.”