20100312173222132 by stevetwincities

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425 Grove St.
St. Paul, MN 55101-2418
Telephone: (651)266-9333
Telefacsimile: (651) 266-9301
February 23, 2010
Janet Hey, Senior Policy Analyst
Information Policy Analysis Division
Minnesota Department of Administration
201 Administration Building
50 Sherburne Avenue
St Paul, MN 55155
Dear Ms. Hey:
This is in response to your request of January 27, 2010 about a data practices issue brought
There are presumably two issues that might be of concern
forth byi
as to whether this office complied with the data practices act.
The first issue is whether any permit holder private data was "disseminated" to a third party
without legal authority. It can categorically be stated it was not. Correspondence went from
this office directly to the permit holder and no one else. What the permit holder did with the
correspondence after it was received is irrelevant since at that point it is their data about
The second potential issue may be one of whether sending correspondence to permit holders
was a potential use consistent with the Tennessen Warning provided to the permit holder. It is
our position that it clearly was as this correspondence was undertaken as part of the process to
administer and enforce the Citizen's Personal Protection Act of 2003 in the manner noted
The names and addresses of Ramsey County "permit to carry a pistol" licensees/permitees
were used to contact permit holders by the permitting/licensing agency, the Ramsey County
Sheriffs Office. There were two primary purposes of the contact and enclosed
communication. Both purposes pertained to the permitting process and improved public
safety. One assisted permit holders with their gun safety skills required by statute. The other
assisted the Sheriffs Office in performing mandatory duties under the gun permit statute.
Specifically the communication was designed to:
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A) Assist permit holders in improving their safety skills through a refresher class of the
same skills necessary to receive the required certificate in the safe use of a pistol.
Accidental discharges are responsible for many injuries and deaths. Many permit
holders have not used their handgun in nearly five years. Some have never used their
weapon because they purchased a new handgun after receiving their permit. Sheriffs
Office firearms instructors coached participants regarding weapons handling, grip,
muzzle awareness, trigger finger safety, reloading, site picture and accuracy. A fifty-
round qualification course was fired. Instructors also discussed safe gun storage
practice at home and answered questions regarding holsters, gun locks and other
issues. Participants were given the attached handout regarding gun safety laws and
received free gun locks.
B) To aid in the enforcement of MN statute 624.714 Subd. 7a requiring permit holders to
notify the Sheriffs Office if they change address so that current and accurate
addresses can be used by the Sheriffs Office to conduct required yearly background
checks, a duty required by statute. Per Minnesota statute 624.714 subd. 4 the sheriff
"must conduct" a background investigation "yearly" and "shall also make a reasonable
effort to check other available and relevant federal, state and local record-keeping
systems." Current and correct address information regarding permit holders is
essential to conduct accurate annual background checks. The same statute states "the
Sheriff must notify the chief of police, if any, of the municipality where the applicant
resides," so that the chief may provide the sheriff with any information relevant to the
issuance of the permit. In many cases, local police departments possess information
that may not be included in statewide criminal history databases. Accurate and current
addresses are critical in fulfilling this mandate of the statute.
The Tennesson Warning given to applicants advised them their information would be used to
conduct background investigation of criminal histories, arrest records and warrant information
to determine their eligibility to carry a pistol. This investigation includes annual required
checks which are dependent upon correct addresses. Efforts to verify accurate addresses are
part of the investigative process and authorized by law. The letter was an investigative tool to
verify addresses.
In regards to the December 2nd mailing, 76 letters were returned by the United States Post
Office as not deliverable because the addressee had moved. Follow-up investigation by the
Sheriffs Office included research of public and private databases, revealing probable new
addresses for many of the permit holders. An additional mailing was sent on January 4, 2010
advising them that they are required to change their address with the Sheriffs Office. A copy
of that letter is attached. Twenty-two persons reported to the Sheriffs Office to properly
change their address. Some chose to cancel their permit, one was deceased. The remaining
47 individuals are receiving a citation for failure to change their address per the St. Paul City
Attorney's Office. Furthermore, Minnesota statute 624.714 subd. 10 states that permit
holders applying for renewal permits are guilty of a gross misdemeanor if they knowingly
give false information in applying for a permit.
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As an alternative to charging a fee for this shooting opportunity, Sheriffs Office employees
chose to volunteer their time and encourage target range shooters to make a donation to one of
five charities serving the homeless in Ramsey County, thereby addressing another public
safety need. Raising funds for homelessness was a secondary positive result of the shooting
activity and permit compliance enforcement. Gun safety, lawful permit compliance and
accurate background investigations were the goal. Had fundraising been the primary goal,
thousands of other non-permitted parties from throughout Minnesota would have been invited
to shoot at the range. Because Ramsey County permit holder's safety and compliance with
law were the priority no other persons were invited to shoot or donate. The decision to charge
a fee or suggest a donation to charity does not change the lawful authority of the Sheriffs
Office to use the United States mail to assist in permit administration and compliance. Any
issues regarding the donation are not relevant to authority of IPAD so further discussion as to
this component should be left to some other forum.
Please feel free to contact me at 651-266-9308 if you have any additional questions. Thank
Bob Fletcher
Ramsey County Sheriff
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