Gun Bill Discussed

The number of new concealed/carry gun permits dropped by 110 in 2017.

The significant decline is due to the Constitutional Carry law in Missouri that took effect Jan. 1, 2017.

In 2017, there were 233 new concealed carry weapons (CCW) permits issued, compared to 2,592 given in 2016. In 2015, there were 2,694 new permits issued.

According to Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton — a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment — the decrease was expected.

Since the law took effect, he has expressed trepidations stemming from the ability of people with a history of violence, yet no convictions, to legally carry a concealed weapon.

The new law 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 permit. It also had to be approved by the sheriff.

According to Pelton, obtaining a CCW permit limits the person’s liability if they must use a firearm.

“As a Second Amendment supporter, I feel that people have the right to open carry,” he said, “but this allows them an extra layer of protection.”

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.

Pelton noted that the training that comes along with a CCW is beneficial to anyone carrying a firearm.

Access to Firearms

Suspects of violent crimes still can have access to guns through legal maneuvering, Pelton said.

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.

“The new law takes away the discretion from the sheriff,” Pelton has said. “We often know if somebody is mentally unstable or they are a frequent flyer in the law enforcement world.”

Senate Bill 656 was passed during the September 2016 veto session when former 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.