New gun laws draw strong reactions across mid-Missouri
COLUMBIA – Missouri lawmakers voted to change Missouri’s gun laws, making it much easier for people to carry a concealed weapon, and people on both sides of this issue have strong feelings.
Kristin Bowen, an activist for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said she’s annoyed with lawmakers, because she believes they gave in to the gun lobby.
“We’re not going away. Moms and dads were in the Capitol to tell our legislators we are watching, and if they are going to cave to gun lobby interests we are paying attention and we will remember in November,” Bowen said.
On Wednesday, the Republican-led Legislature enacted Senate Bill 656 into law by a 24-6 Senate vote and a 112-41 vote in the House. Missouri will now join 10 other states with what supporters describe as a "constitutional carry" right.
The law now allows:
- Use of deadly force within private property would be lawful for self-defense in specified situations
- Lifetime concealed-carry permits could be purchased for $500 (revocation of permit follows same current guidelines)
- Concealing a firearm in public without a concealed-carry permit would no longer be considered unlawful use of a weapon. That means they won't have to go through the training currently required for permit holders.
Gary Wright, a gun owner who lives in Columbia, feels differently, although he has his concerns. Wright said he would have fully supported the bill, but only if they took out the part which allows people to conceal a firearm without any training requirements.
“Part of the bill that I actually don’t like is the doing away with training requirement before a conceal-carry permit is issued. I think that’s the minimum you should have people go through in order to be able to carry a gun around in Walmart or anywhere else in public,” Wright said.
Wright said if he was the governor, he would enact a line-item veto, and pass the rest of the bill. Firearms instructor Jim Hill, an instructor at Target Masters Shooting Range in Columbia, on the other hand, fully supports every part of the legislation.
“I think everybody knows the bad guy is going to carry regardless, so the good guy needs to be on even turf with him,” Hill said.
Still, Hill said he is worried gun owners won’t know their rights when the new law goes into effect, which he thinks could lead to some terrible outcomes.
“I’m worried that a good person is either going to go to the wrong place and get arrested or they’re gonna use deadly force outside the perimeters of statute and end up in jail,” Hill said.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct a previous misspelling.