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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Rep. Jason Smith: Protecting Missouri Citizen's Privacy

  • State Executive Agencies may have Improperly Shared Your Concealed Carry Information
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  • Over the last month my colleagues and I in the state legislature have heard from hundreds of concerned citizens who were deeply troubled by the actions the executive branch took to collect our private information and share it with the federal government.  I have talked about this issue in previous reports, but the story continues to take new twists and turns as the allegations of misconduct become more disturbing. The lack of responsibility on the part of our governor has not only angered citizens, it also has drawn the ire of state legislators from both sides of the aisle.  This week our suspicions were confirmed when we learned that the Missouri Highway Patrol has already shared the information of 163,000 law-abiding Missourians with concealed carry permits to the federal government. Considering the fact the administration repeatedly denied that any information was shared, this admission was a true eye-opener that has begun to shine light on a complex effort to cover up the truth. To say my colleagues and I in the House are outraged by this new piece of information would be an understatement.   I realize some people may see our outrage as a knee jerk reaction. They think the idea that the federal government wants to create a federal gun owner database is something manufactured simply to get headlines. But the truth is that our private information has been collected, and now we know that the information has been shared with the federal government. That doesn’t necessarily mean we are on the verge of a federal gun owner database, but it does mean the information of law-abiding gun owners is out there and available. That’s something that should concern all of us.  As I have mentioned previously, the Missouri House has taken this issue very seriously and worked quickly to address this problem. This week the House passed legislation (HB 787) I co-sponsor that is meant to ensure that the private information of Missouri citizens remains private. Specifically, it prohibits the department from scanning personal information and submitting it to an out-of-state database. It also requires that the department destroy all documents that have already been scanned.   These are some simple, common sense steps that will prevent the department and the executive branch from continuing to violate our privacy rights. Unfortunately, it cannot undo the fact that the governor and his administration have already chosen to share some of the information already collected with the federal government. This issue continues to be troubling and the legislature is committed to fully investigating every aspect of what has happened with the goal of discovering the truth.  This afternoon House Speaker Tim Jones officially called on Attorney General Chris Koster to form an independent investigative committee to closely examine the ongoing revenue department scandal. At the heart of his request is the fact that the Nixon administration likely violated provisions of the law that I co-sponsored in 2009 to prohibit the state from complying with the privacy-destroying provisions contained in the federal Real ID Act of 2005.   Despite the law that we passed, and the fact that Governor Nixon signed it, documents released by the revenue department indicate the state has taken several steps to comply with the Real ID Act of 2005. This is yet another disturbing piece of information and something we will not tolerate, nor will we rest until Missourians get the answers they deserve on this issue.  As always, should you have any questions, feel free to contact my office at 573-751-1688, or Jason.Smith@House.mo.gov.
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