Missouri’s gun laws were relaxed Wednesday as a Republican-led legislature overrode vetoes by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on Senate Bill 656, or the “gun bill.” Locally people expressed their opinions both positive and negative about the change.
Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond said there are many components to the legislation that the public may misunderstand.
The newly-loosened gun laws state that by Jan. 1, 2017, those who wish to carry a concealed weapon would not need a permit and would not need to take a gun-training course.
The legislature also created a self-defense “stand-your-ground” right in Missouri that will allow people, who have a legal right to be at a particular location, to not leave a dangerous situation, but with use of a weapon they could protect themselves.
The bill also broadened the “castle doctrine.” Not only may a homeowner protect their property with deadly force if threatened, but people who are invited into a home may also use a firearm to protect the residence. Invited guests would include taken in grandparents, friends, babysitters and others. This bill will go into effect Oct. 14.
“What concerns me most, is the lack of public understanding of things like the castle doctrine and stand-your-ground,” Bond said Friday. “Because this is not just completely opening the flood gates and for you to be able to do as you see fit. You need to be aware of what those limitations are.
“There is the potential for good law-abiding citizens to potentially get in trouble, because they are not aware of the parameters, that already exist within state statutes,” he added.
Bond added that it’s not “open game” for those who wish to conceal and carry.
“Nobody’s talking about that, they talk about constitutional carry, and they think the gates are open,” he noted. “That’s not really the case. The biggest issue is that this law doesn’t not allow reciprocity with other states. So, it is only for the state of Missouri. If you want to carry outside the state of Missouri, you still must have a Missouri conceal/carry permit.”
Bond also stated that each county in Missouri has their own laws concerning open carry. If the county does not allow open carry, then a CCP permit would not be allowed either. Therefore the new gun laws are moot in those counties.
State Rep. Nathan Beard, R-Sedalia, also said Friday that the new laws are only for Missouri and that all laws in effect now will remain in effect.
“That is why the permit system is still in full force and in effect,” he added. “If you’d like to get a carry and conceal permit, you are still welcome to do so, and I bet you a lot of people still will, because it does provide good training.
“Then also, if you wanted to travel outside of our state to other states that have concealed/carry laws then if there’s reciprocity between the states, your permit that you get here in the state of Missouri would also allow you to travel with a concealed weapon lawfully.”
Beard noted that it’s been a “long fight” to get Missouri gun laws relaxed.
“It’s sure been a shrine in our constitution, not only at a federal level but also at the state level,” he said. “‘The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ So, before this bill passed, you could always carry a concealed weapon as long as you paid a fine, meaning you went and got yourself a permit. Basically, you have to pay a fine and then you have to take the state’s training, and then you could get your permit.
“Then, as long as you had that permit and you followed all the other laws of the land you could carry it concealed,” Beard added. “The only problem with that is, this is a constitutional right. What other constitutional rights do we have that requires you to pay a fee and take the state’s training in order to exercise it? This is really where the bill came from and where we came from as a legislature. “
Sedalia Police Department Chief John DeGonia said Thursday there were a “couple points” in the bill that gave law enforcement “some significant concerns.”
He acknowledged that training was no longer needed for a CCP with the passing of the legislation.
“It could create a problem,” he added. “At least through the course you receive gun laws, you get to know how to operate a gun, load it, unload it safely. Is it going to be something that will threaten the police? No.”
DeGonia did say it could pose more of a threat to regular citizens who are not familiar with how to use a firearm without the training. He emphasized also that since the new legislature doesn’t require Missourians to have a CCP permit, carrying a concealed gun into another state could be illegal due to reciprocity issues.
He did note that the criminal element are always going to find ways to carry and conceal guns.
“You don’t want to take the second amendment away for good people,” DeGonia said. “But, I’m still thinking the bad guys are still going to get guns, and the bad guys are still going to conceal the guns.”
He added that there should be stricter laws on background checks for those purchasing guns.
“That’s just my personal opinion,” he said. “That’s like me hiring a police officer and saying ‘we did a five-minute background check on him.’ I wouldn’t accept that.”
Tim Padgett, owner of Black Dawn Armory & Range located on North Ohio Avenue, said he wasn’t familiar with all aspects of the bill.
“It’s a bill that contains more than just the constitutional carry in it,” he said Thursday.
“All of those parts of the bill is actually a good thing,” Padgett said. “I believe that the concealed/carry portion of that is everybody’s right and therefore they should be able to carry guns concealed, if they want.
“The drawback to that in passing, that I feel, is it doesn’t offer any reciprocity in any other states,” he added. “It’s only good for the state of Missouri. I feel that people should still do their due diligence and educate themselves on the laws in pertaining to carrying a concealed weapon, as well as they should make sure they take firearms training. And, continue on with training throughout the time, if they are going to carry concealed.”
He noted that the bill would allow people to carry concealed weapons who may not know how to handle a firearm, which in turn could create liability issues.
“In my mind for gross negligence,” he added. “We’re still going to offer our CCW classes, that’s not going to change. We’re still going to offer our full line of training classes, handgun classes, rifle classes. The best thing I could suggest is, even though yes it’s your right and you can carry concealed in our state, you should still do the due diligence and get training and education, and make sure you’re aware of everything on it.
“But, yeah, the other parts of that senate bill is a very good thing,” he added. “I think it’s kind of silly that if somebody was watching my son, that they couldn’t protect the household, because it’s not their household. It’s bad that we have to actually go back and rewrite them, because of the laws.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.