The FBI has been contacting states and asking them to cooperate with federal investigations into concealed carry permits. At least one state attorney general says that amounts to an unacceptable violation of Second Amendment rights.
“It has come to my attention that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has informed several Missouri county sheriffs that they will be showing up in August to ‘audit’ CCW permit holder records,” Missouri’s attorney general Eric Schmitt wrote in a July 13 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
According to the FBI, the audit includes an onsite review of concealed carry weapons permits. However, state law in Missouri prohibits distribution of the permit holders’ information. Missouri law states, “Information retained in the concealed carry permit system under this subsection shall not be distributed to any federal, state, or private entities.”
Schmitt expressed strong condemnation of the federal policy and said he will use state laws to resist it.
“Let me be perfectly clear,” he wrote, “allowing federal agents from the FBI to have access to records of Missourians who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon violates Missouri law and infringes on our Second Amendment rights.”
He added, “I will use the full power of my Office to stop the FBI, which has become relentlessly politicized and has virtually no credibility, from illegally prying around in the personal information of Missouri gun owners.”
The letter from Schmitt notes lawmakers in Missouri were concerned with potential FBI overreach on Second Amendment rights during the Obama Administration. “The federal government has no business poking around to find out [gun owners] identities,” the attorney general wrote.
Missouri’s law, which Schmitt helped pass when he was previously a state senator, made it clear that only elected sheriffs could have access to the list of concealed carry permit holders.
Schmitt concludes: “I will fight tooth and nail with all of the resources that Missouri has given me as their attorney general.”
On this latest concealed carry development, some political commentators have taken a stance supporting Schmitt’s letter. Americans for Limited Government’s President Richard Manning wrote the following on Aug 11.
“Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s defense of the privacy and individual right to keep and bear arms of the people of the Show Me state is a model for how the top law enforcement officer of a state should respond to unlawful actions by federal law enforcement,” Manning wrote.
The U.S. Supreme Court has recently sided with gun owners on a significant decision concerning the right to have concealed carry permits in New York. The justices overturned a law that restricted citizens’ ability to have such permits. Schmitt says he played a key role in that effort.
“I led dozens of state attorneys general in filing a brief defending our Second Amendment rights, and we prevailed,” Missouri’s attorney general wrote.
According to SCOTUSblog.com, the court made clear “that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right “to keep and bear arms” protects a broad right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense.”
The 108-year-old law had required New Yorkers to indicate a “proper cause” for needing the permit.
Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.