On Jan. 1, Missouri became the 11th state in the country to pass Constitutional Carry, which allows residents to carry a concealed firearm without advanced training, law enforcement background checks or a permit.
The bill was passed during the September veto session when Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto was overridden by the Republican super majorities in the state legislature.
Since that time, many residents have decided to forego the formerly mandated training and background check to carry a weapon under the new law.
Amanda Warnecke, who handles the conceal carry permitting for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, said there has been a drastic reduction in conceal carry permits and renewals every month since September. “We are only processing about 40 permits per month,” Warnecke said. “It used to be 300 per month.”
The bill was originally sent from the General Assembly on May 25 and at that time, Nixon announced he intended to veto the omnibus gun bill.
Of concern are the constitutional carry provisions, which would deny sheriffs the opportunity to review, grant, deny and most importantly, revoke conceal carry permits, and language eliminating the requirements for firearm training before permits are issued drew the ire of law enforcement and the public.
After an article in The Missourian drew his attention, Nixon held a meeting in Washington with several law enforcement officials from Franklin and nearby counties last summer.
Warnecke cautions anyone who intends to carry a weapon without a permit to understand the constitutional carry law is only valid within the state of Missouri.
Only sheriff-approved, five-year conceal carry permits are valid in states that allow reciprocity from other states.
“There is a misconception that there is no option for a permit anymore,” Warnecke said. “A five-year Missouri permit is honored in 35 or 36 other states. A lot of people get the permits just for traveling.”
Warnecke adds anyone who is considering carrying a gun, whether constitutionally or with a permit, should make themselves aware of the legal issues surrounding conceal carry and should be aware of reciprocity of other states and the places they can and can’t carry.
“The permits are not going away,” she said. “I can’t tell people what they should or shouldn’t do. People are going to have to research this and decide what the best option is for them.”
To obtain a five-year permit, the same training, background check and eventual sheriff approval as before is required.
Warnecke said, of the 2,500 applications and renewals processed each year, only about 10 were rejected by the sheriff.
The new legislation says that as of Oct. 14, residents would be able to apply for 10-year, 25-year and lifetime permits.
Because of a holdup with the Missouri Sheriffs Association, none of the departments in Missouri are ready to issue the long-term permits.
Warnecke said Franklin County looked into purchasing its own software, but the costs were too high, so that will remain on hold until the association comes through.