In addition to not needing a permit to carry, the new law also differs from the previous concealed carry method by not requiring weapons to be concealed in public. Citizens may start seeing open holsters while they’re out and about town.
As of the new year, Missouri citizens are no longer required to obtain their concealed carry license to be armed in public. While the law, known as constitutional carry, does not extend beyond the state's borders, there won't be any restrictions for citizens who wish to purchase and carry a gun.
Local law enforcement shared mixed feelings about the law.
“You just assume everybody knows how to use a gun, but how many people accidentally shoot themselves?” said Chief Deputy Sgt. Jimmy Brashear. “You must take a test to show you can to drive a car before getting a driver’s license. You must take a hunter safety course before getting a hunting license, but you don’t have to show us you know how to shoot a gun or know the laws pertaining to gun laws and most especially when you can use a gun in self-defense.”
Public safety officers aren't so much worried about people using guns illegally, but not using them properly or safely. Even guns that are well maintained and used in the correct fashion suffer misfires occasionally, and someone using a firearm without the proper training only escalates that risk.
In a press release on the new law, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office encouraged people to still take concealed carry classes to obtain a permit.
“Taking the necessary training to obtain a permit not only gives one much needed knowledge on the safe use of a firearm but, even more importantly, it gives one the knowledge on the laws of the state of Missouri for carrying and using a firearm, particularly in self-defense,” it states. “This training can also help to protect one in the legal aftermath after using deadly force.”
When applying for a concealed carry license, individuals were required to complete a certain amount of training. The way the current law reads, individuals who wish to purchase a gun are not required to receive any training to start carrying one in places where open carry is not banned locally.
In addition to not needing a permit to carry, the new law also differs from the previous concealed carry method by not requiring weapons to be concealed in public. Citizens may start seeing open holsters while they’re out and about town. If someone sees a weapon and believes the carrier might pose a risk, they are welcome to call the police. The dispatcher may ask if the carrier is acting in a dangerous manner but will otherwise not be able to do anything, as that citizen is now within their rights.
However, just as businesses were able to deny concealed weapons previously, they are still able to deny any open weapons on their premise. They only need to post a sign letting citizens know firearms are not allowed.
Guns are also still banned from the premises of places such as courthouses and other government buildings, hospitals, polling places and schools.
Local municipalities have the authority to ban “permit-less” carry within their jurisdiction as well so you may need to check with local authorities so you don’t violate an ordinance without realizing it.
Permit or not, law enforcement agencies are stressing the need for firearm education, which is available at almost any firing range.
Concealed carry permits and related training are still available as permits allow carry in certain places where open carry is banned.
The new open carry rules do not extend outside the state, so if traveling, you need to know the laws of that particular state. The Missouri concealed carry permit is valid in 34 other states including the seven states bordering Missouri.
If you’re pulled over in a traffic stop or the like, police officers around the state are now starting to ask citizens if they are armed. This is simply for the safety of both parties, to avoid any potential accidents, and citizens should not be alarmed when being asked.
Despite legal challenges, felons are still not allowed to carry guns. According to Brashear, the Missouri Supreme Court found in Dotson v. Kander that the new law did not apply to violent felons or persons adjudicated to be a danger to themselves or others.
There are also other instances in which it is illegal to possess a firearm, including handling a gun while intoxicated, using a firearm in a negligent manner, discharging a gun within 100 yards of any occupied schoolhouse, courthouse or church. It is illegal to discharge a firearm into a house, vehicle, on or along a public highway or from a motor vehicle while in a town. And, of course, it is illegal to shoot at someone unless acting in self-defense.
According to Brashear, Missouri’s new law in regards to “stand your ground” no longer requires people to attempt to back away from trouble in public, but before using deadly force, there must be a fear of bodily harm or death.
Rolla Daily News reporter Corbin Kottmann contributed to this story.