Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday that his administration will stop making electronic copies of people's concealed gun permits, reversing a policy that had been widely denounced by Republican lawmakers as an invasion of privacy.
The Democratic governor announced his decision a day after the resignation of the director of the Department of Revenue. The agency in December began requiring local driver's license clerks to scan copies of applicants' personal documents into a state database as a means of rooting out fraud.
"It has been determined that the scanning and retention of concealed carry certificates are not essential to the integrity of the license issuance process," Nixon said Tuesday in a written statement. "We will continue to work with policymakers to ensure the security and privacy of our license issuance process."
The Department of Revenue handles concealed carry permits because it is responsible for issuing the necessary photo identification cards or placing a concealed weapons endorsement on people's driver's licenses.
Controversy over the document-scanning procedure erupted in early March, when Republicans touted a lawsuit challenging the new policy. They contend the database of documents violates the privacy rights of gun owners and have alleged that Missouri is taking steps to comply with the federal proof-of-identity law known as Real ID, though Nixon has denied that.
In the past few weeks, Republican lawmakers have issued a subpoena to the Revenue Department, convened investigatory hearings and held numerous news conferences denouncing the Revenue Department's new procedures. They also have advanced bills that would bar the agency from making electronic copies of concealed gun permits and order it to destroy any existing files in the database.
As recently as last week, Revenue Department Director Brian Long told a Senate committee that he was unwilling to commit to halting the scanning of concealed gun documents. Long abruptly resigned Monday, citing the unanticipated personal toll of the job to which he had been appointed in December. A Nixon spokesman said Long was neither encouraged nor asked to resign.