The tumultuous political climate of 2016 is one factor in the stark difference in the number of new Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) permits issued in Franklin County so far this year compared to last.
That’s according to Sheriff Steve Pelton, who also cited a change to state law that went into effect this year that is no longer requiring permits to carry a concealed weapon.
There were 892 CCW permits issued through July 2016, compared to just 128 issued so far this year. The stats were provided by sheriff’s office staff.
“I think some of that is due to the political environment,” Pelton told The Missourian, noting that Franklin County is predominantly Republican and residents may have been concerned about the impact of the presidential race.
“There also was a lot of propaganda out there,” he added.
There are now more than 9,000 Franklin County residents who have permits to carry concealed handguns.
Last year, a total of 1,146 citizens obtained new conceal/carry permits through the sheriff’s office. That is down from the total in 2015 of 1,386, which is the highest one-year total in the past 12 years.
There were 1,446 renewals issued in 2016, the most ever. Missouri law requires that conceal/carry permits be renewed every five years. Originally, the permits had to be renewed every three years.
In 2014, the fee to obtain a new permit increased from $60.50 to $100 after the Legislature changed the law to make sheriff’s offices responsible for the permitting process.
Previously, the sheriff’s office processed the applications and the applicant had to obtain the actual permit from a Missouri Department of Revenue fee office.
The fee was increased to compensate for the additional costs associated with maintenance of computer equipment and additional expenses caused by changes in the law,
Pelton — a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment — continues to urge county residents to obtain a CCW permit, although it is no longer necessary to legally carry a concealed handgun.
“Every law-abiding citizen should have the right to carry, but the CCW provides an extra level of protection,” he said. “It (CCW permit) also is recognized in other states.”
“I think anyone with a firearm should have training,” Pelton added.
The new law, Senate Bill 656, that went into effect Jan. 1, allows residents to carry a concealed firearm without advanced training, law enforcement background checks or a permit.
Prior to passage, to legally carry a concealed firearm, residents were required to obtain the CCW permit, which is a five-year conceal permit, with the approval of the sheriff’s office.
Pelton noted that the new law takes away the discretion from the sheriff’s office, which often knows if somebody is “mentally unstable or they are a frequent flier in the law enforcement world.”
Suspects of violent crimes still can have access to guns through legal maneuvering.
As part of some felony plea bargains, a defendant could be given suspended imposition of sentences (s.i.s.). That means that a defendant can plead guilty to a violent crime, yet not receive a conviction for it.
Under the Constitutional Carry law, people who have pleaded guilty to violent crimes, but have no felony convictions, can still legally purchase firearms and ammunition. That includes those who receive an s.i.s for felonies such as first-degree assault, weapons charges and sexual assault.
According to Pelton, obtaining a CCW permit limits the person’s liability if they must use a firearm.
The Missouri permit also is recognized in 34 other states, including seven states that border Missouri. Carrying without a permit is only legal in 11 states.
He added the training that comes along with a CCW is beneficial to anyone carrying a firearm.
From 2004 through 2011, the sheriff’s office issued 3,482 conceal/carry permits.
The individual totals, new and renewals, for other years are:
2012 — 690 new, 817 renewals;
2013 — 1,342 new, 836 renewals;
2014 — 907 new, 815 renewals;
2015 — 1,386 new, 1,308 renewals; and
2016 — 1,146 new, 1,446 renewals.
The sheriff’s office processes first-time applicants and permit renewals Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on legal holidays.
Because of the required “background” checks on applicants and other necessary administrative procedures, an appointment is required. Applicants wishing to apply for a CCW permit can call the CCW clerk at 636-584-6859 for appointments and further information.