Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon today vetoed Senate Bill 656, which would have eliminated the current requirements that individuals must obtain training, education, a background check and a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm in Missouri.
The bill would have allowed individuals, including those from other states, to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they have been denied a permit because their background check revealed criminal offenses or caused the sheriff to believe they posed a danger.
The Governor discussed his veto during an address to hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the state at the Missouri Police Chiefs Association annual conference.
“Here in Missouri, responsible gun ownership and support for the Second Amendment are strongly held values. These values are part of who we are, and a tradition we pass from generation to generation,” said Gov. Nixon. “As Governor, I have signed bills to expand the rights of law-abiding Missourians to carry concealed and am always willing to consider ways to further improve our CCW process. But I cannot support the extreme step of throwing out that process entirely, eliminating sensible protections like background checks and training requirements, and taking away the ability of sheriffs to protect their communities.”
Since 2003, Missouri law has set forth a process for obtaining a concealed carry permit. This well-established process requires classroom and range training, as well as a background check and review by the sheriff, before an applicant can obtain a concealed carry permit.
Under this process, sheriffs have also appropriately rejected many individuals’ applications and those decisions have been upheld by courts on appeal.
In his veto message, Gov. Nixon provided examples of individuals who could automatically carry a concealed weapon under this law who cannot do so today, including individuals who have pled guilty to a felony and received a suspended imposition of sentence; individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor assault; and individuals with two or more misdemeanor drug possession convictions.
“I cannot support a system that would ignore a determination by the chief law enforcement officer of a county that an individual is a danger to the community and should not be authorized to carry a concealed firearm,” said the Governor in his veto message. “Allowing currently prohibited individuals to automatically be able to carry concealed would make Missouri less safe.”
The Governor’s concerns echo those voiced by law enforcement agencies, including the Missouri Police Chiefs Association (MPCA), representing 600 members statewide, and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 6,400 law enforcement officers across the state.
In a letter to the Governor, Missouri Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Ahlbrand wrote, “Make no mistake, we are staunch supporters of the 2nd amendment. We feel however that the enactment of SB 656, specifically the allowance of giving anyone not currently prohibited from possessing a firearms, the ability to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, will cost not only citizen lives, but will also be extremely dangerous to law enforcement officers.”
“The Missouri Police Chiefs Association is concerned for the safety of citizens and officers, through the loss of the balance that has existed in Missouri relating to the carrying of concealed weapons for the past several years, and the language in SB 656 that will even allow those persons convicted of crimes to use a verdict that includes a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) to legally carry a concealed weapon,” said MPCA President Chief Paul Williams. “During a time that balanced approaches and solutions are needed more than ever to face increasing challenges, there is no need to create an imbalance, and potentially decrease the safety of citizens and police officers alike, through such a profound change in Missouri’s concealed carry law, which has served this state well over the past several years.”