Interest in concealed carry permits in Missouri appears to be dropping after passage of a new law making them unnecessary to carry hidden guns and other weapons in many places, according to Highway Patrol data provided to The Associated Press.
Data from the patrol, which does the fingerprint checking for permits, show fewer than 1,600 fingerprint submissions from local sheriffs’ departments were processed in December.
That’s about 750 fewer processed than the previous three-year low of about 2,300 in June 2014. Records only date back to January 2014 because lawmakers in 2013 required the agency to destroy past records of fingerprinting and concealed carry permits.
Lawmakers and law enforcement officials say the recent drop was expected because of the new law, which was passed by lawmakers in September over former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto.
“It’s pretty common-sense,” said Democratic Rep. Stacey Newman, who opposed the law. “If you don’t need a permit, why would you get one?”
The measure, described by supporters as “constitutional carry,” allows people to carry hidden guns without a permit or training anywhere they can currently carry weapons openly, effective this year. People who choose to still get a concealed-carry permit can potentially carry their weapons into places off-limits to others and can take them to states with reciprocal agreements.
There still are places in Missouri, such as federal property, where firearms are not allowed even with a permit.
To get a Missouri permit, applicants must be permanent residents or citizens, be at least 19 years old and complete safety training. Those convicted of certain crimes are not eligible, and sheriffs can refuse to issue permits if they believe applicants pose a danger to themselves or others. A background check still is required to get a permit.
Republican Sen. Brian Munzlinger said he still encourages gun owners to take safety and training classes and get concealed carry permits, which allow holders to carry hidden weapons in other states that recognize Missouri’s permit system.
Republican Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler said he expects applications will go up again when more people realize the benefits for out-of-state travel.
Wheeler said training now required for permits also provides helpful information about state gun laws.
“There are definite laws out there they have to follow, even with the constitutional carry,” Wheeler said.
He said training also helps prepare gun owners for what to expect and what to do in situations in which they might need to use firearms for defense. Without that, Wheeler said gun holders might “freeze up,” risk having their weapon taken away during an altercation or be a danger to themselves.
By Summer Ballentine | Associated Press