Constitutional Carry Gun Law Made Legal in Missouri

By Carolynn Gonzalez

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed Senate Bill 656 on June 26, 2016, a bill that loosens Missouri’s gun permit laws. The veto was overturned by lawmakers on Sept. 14 and makes it legal to carry a concealed gun without a permit. The bill becomes law on Jan. 1, 2017.

“The new gun law where anyone can carry now without any training or screening is a mistake,” Richard Orr, Democratic candidate for Missouri Senate, said. “I haven’t found anyone who is happy about it.”

Along with being able to carry a firearm without training, screening or a permit, the new law also gives gun owners the ability to shoot upon feeling threatened on not just their property, like current law says, but in public too. In addition, the bill lowers the age of eligibility to apply for a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19. Senate Bill 656 also denies law enforcement the ability to stop those with criminal or domestic abuse records from obtaining firearms.

“I don’t agree with it,” junior Garrett Ray said. “I don’t think that everyone who buys a gun is capable of handling one.”

Supporters of the bill believe that it is their right to expand their range of defense for their families as well as themselves. Nixon’s veto of the bill was viewed as Missourians’ rights being condemned.

“By making Missouri a constitutional carry state, I support that,” Bill Eigel, Republican candidate for Missouri Senate, said. “I think that although probably not everyone should be carrying a weapon out there, the Constitution grants us all the right to do so if we feel that is a step we need to take to ensure our personal liberty and personal protection.”

Those who disagree with the bill believe that it is unnecessary and makes it easier for dangerous people to obtain firearms. People who support gun control also believe that gun violence will increase, especially in urban areas like St. Louis and Kansas City.

“Those who want to possess weapons for self defense or recreation didn’t have to go through a difficult process under the previous law,” Orr said. “This is a solution to a problem that wasn’t a problem.”

Missouri is the 11th state to loosen its gun laws in this way; others include Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming. According to a survey conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety in August 2016, 91 percent of Missourians surveyed support requiring a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public. 44 percent of Missourians surveyed also stated that gun laws should be made stronger, while 40 percent stated they should be kept as is.

“This is a pretty big victory for gun rights activists,” Eigel said. “This represents one of the best-case scenarios nationwide that citizens have in order to exercise their freedoms, so I’m very excited about where we’re at right now.”