Watchdog Group Announces Recall of Concealed Weapon Permit ID Cards
MISSOULA - The Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) announces a
recall today of most concealed weapon permit (CWP) ID cards issued in
Montana. MSSA is recommending that permit holders seek a
replacement permit from the issuing sheriff if the permittee's Social
Security Number (SSN) is printed on the CWP ID card.
MSSA president Gary Marbut commented, "We all know that SSNs are the
jackpot for ID thieves. All ID theft advisories warn that a
person should not have their SSN in their wallet or purse. We
urge people to replace CWP ID cards that carry an SSN with one that
does not. Sheriffs should not charge to replace these defective
Montana law requires CWP applicants to provide their SSN to their
sheriff when they apply for a permit to facilitate the required
background check. No law requires sheriffs to actually put SSNs
on the ID card they issue to permit holders. Yet sheriffs
commonly print permittees SSNs on the ID cards because of mistaken
direction given to sheriffs by the Montana Department of Justice.
DOJ is required by law to provide a model form for sheriffs to use for
CWP ID cards. The form DOJ has provided to sheriffs contains a
blank for the permittee's SSN, misleading sheriffs to believe it is
required to have the SSN on the card. Most Montana sheriffs
follow this direction from DOJ and print SSNs on CWP ID cards, thereby
exposing CWP holders to an unnecessary and enhanced risk of identity
Marbut continued, "We asked Attorney General McGrath and DOJ to send an
advisory letter to sheriffs informing them that placing SSNs on these
ID cards is not required by law and is actually contrary to DOJ privacy
and anti-identity theft policy. DOJ declined to participate in
solving this problem they had created, saying they wished to hand the
problem off to a non-governmental entity for solution, or wait for the
Legislature to possibly offer a correction. We are very
frustrated with how state government talks a good talk about protecting
citizens' privacy, but actually works against it. In this case
DOJ is the source of the problem and refuses to be part of the
Marbut expects that sheriffs will be quite willing to replace the CWP
ID cards carrying SSNs with new cards that don't include SSNs, to help
protect permittees from privacy loss and identity theft. The
Legislature passed a law to take SSNs off driver's license ID cards for
exactly this reason.
MSSA is the principle entity advocating for gun owners and hunters in
Montana, and is responsible for the passage of the concealed weapon
permit law that is currently on the statute books in Montana.
MSSA has achieved passage of up to 45 pro-gun and pro-hunting bills in
the last 20 years.
- 30 -
Information: Gary Marbut, 549-1252
MSSA county survey; SSNs on CWP cards
Beaverhead County - Yes
Butte-Silverbow County - Yes
Custer County - Yes
Dawson County - No
Fergus County - Yes
Flathead County - No
Gallatin County - Yes
Jefferson County - Yes
Lewis and Clark County - Yes
Mineral County - Yes
Missoula County - Yes
Park County - No
Ravalli County - Yes
Richland County - No
Sanders County - Yes
Sheridan County - Yes
Teton County - Yes
Toole County - Yes
Yellowstone County - Yes
Letter to AG McGrath, sent both electronically and on MSSA letterhead
by U.S. Mail.
November 27, 2006
Montana Attorney General
Montana Department of Justice
215 N. Sanders
Helena, Montana 59601
It has come to my attention that when many Montana sheriffs issue
concealed weapon permits (CWP) they print the permittee's Social
Security Number (SSN) on the face of the identification card issued to
Although Montana law (45-8-322, M.C.A.) requires CWP applicants to
provide their SSNs on the CWP application forms, there is nothing in
Montana law that requires a sheriff to put the permittee's SSN on the
CWP card issued by the sheriff.
We request that you issue an advisory letter to county attorneys and
sheriffs stating that it is an unacceptable violation of a permittee's
right to privacy to place their SSN on the CWP card issued by a Montana
sheriff. Montana law clearly gives MTDoJ the authority to speak
to the form of the CWP card issued by sheriffs:
45-8-322, (3) ... The permit and each renewal must be
â€¦ in a form
prescribed by the department of justice, and must at a minimum include
the name, address, physical description, signature, driver's license or
state identification card number, and a picture of the permittee.
In addition to the constitutional privacy issue, all authorities
advising about identity theft prevention strongly advise people to
guard their SSN, the golden key to identity theft. It is highly
recommended that a person NOT have their SSN together with any
identification or credit cards, in case of loss or theft of a wallet or
I have conducted an informal email survey of MSSA members asking those
with CWPs to report if the issuing county places the permittee's SSN on
the issued CWP identification card. The first results of this
county survey are as follows: Butte-Silverbow - Yes; Cascade -
Yes; Custer - Yes; Fergus - Yes; Flathead - Yes; Gallatin - Yes;
Jefferson - Yes; Lewis and Clark - Yes; Missoula - Yes; Park - No;
Ravalli - Yes; and Richland - No.
I find this high publication incidence of SSNs to be alarming and
Mike, I even question whether the law requiring CWP applicants to
submit SSNs on CWP applications passes constitutional muster. On
the floor of the 1972 Constitutional Convention, the author of the
current right to privacy provision, Bob Campbell, stated that the
purpose of this (then) proposed right was to prevent "snooping" into
the private lives of private people. This applies especially to
government actors under the Montana Supreme Court's Long
decision. The exact purpose of SSN use is to facilitate gathering
information about private individuals - snooping. Therefore,
there is little question but what SSN use by government actors runs
counter to the intent for the right to privacy the people of Montana
have reserved to themselves in their Constitution. It is quite
likely that requiring SSNs of CWP applicants fails to rise to the
compelling state interest required by the Montana Constitution for
invasion of the right to privacy.
If you should lack the authority to declare that collection of SSNs on
CWP applications violates Montana citizens' right to privacy, you
certainly have all the authority and legislative blessing necessary to
prevent issuing sheriffs from putting SSNs on the wallet ID cards
issued to CWP applicants.
We ask that you do so, as soon as possible. We also ask you to
direct sheriffs to reissue current CWP ID cards without SSNs upon
request by any permittee.
Finally, Montana law does not require permittees to have their CWP ID
card on their person in order to exercise their privilege to carry a
concealed weapon. The law only requires them to apply for and be
"issued" a permit (see 45-8-317 (1)(g), M.C.A.). Until SSNs are
no longer printed on the face of CWP ID cards, my advice to permittees
with SSNs on their CWP cards will be to leave the card secured at home
so they won't suffer the escalated risk of identity theft if their
wallet or purse should be lost or stolen.
Thank you for your assistance.
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
Response from DOJ
Subject: Social Security Numbers on Concealed Weapons Permits
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 14:39:49 -0700
From: "Hollenbaugh, Galen" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mike McGrath is out of the office for a few days and has asked me to
get back to you regarding your recent e-mail and letter expressing
concerns about the collection and use of social security numbers (SSN)
for concealed weapon permits. As you noted Mont. Code. Ann.
requires applicants to provide their SSN when applying for a concealed
weapon permit. The provision of an applicantâ€™s SSN is necessary
order for the county sheriff to conduct a background check as required
by Montana law.
I recognize your concerns about use of the SSN on the concealed weapon
permit and the potential for identity theft. Mike has encouraged
agencies not to use SSN as an identifier on any citizen documents (ie.
hunting licenses). I will contact The Montana Sheriffs and Peace
Officers Association about this issue and work with the MSPOA to
educate county sheriffs about the risk of using SSNs as a personal
identifier and strongly encourage those who use them, to remove SSNs
from issued concealed weapons permits. I have also brought this issue
to the attention of the Governor's Concealed Weapons Advisory Council.
I encourage you to review Senate Bill 33 that will be introduced in the
upcoming 2007 session that seeks to protect SSNs and put procedures in
place in case of a data breach involving such sensitive information.
The Department of Justice will be supporting this legislation and will
continue to work to educate Montana consumers about identity theft and
ways that they can protect themselves.
Thanks for bringing this matter to our attention.
Deputy Chief of Staff
Montana Department of Justice