After Springfield scare, law expert breaks down Missouri's open carry laws

6 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Friday, August 09 2019 Aug 9, 2019 Friday, August 09, 2019 1:02:00 PM CDT August 09, 2019 in News
By: Diana Fidarova, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - An incident in which a man carrying a firearm was arrested at a Walmart in Missouri on Thursday created concerns for many people and is prompting discussions about open carry laws.

Authorities identified the man as 20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko. He was charged with making a terrorist threat in the second degree Friday by the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney.

In Missouri, there isn't a statute that prohibits the open carrying of a firearm, according to the Giffords Law Center.

The Columbia Police Officers' Association executive director Dale Roberts said open carry is when a person has a firearm and that firearm is visible to the public. It differs from concealed carry, which requires a person to hide the gun from public view.

According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), anyone who is over the age of 19 and legally permitted to own a firearm can carry a rifle or handgun without a permit. Those who are 18 years of age and a member of the United States Armed Forces or have been honorably discharged can also carry without a permit.

Roberts said when he teaches conceal carry or firearms classes for people, he advises against open-carry.

"When people see firearms in public, many become alarmed," he said. "It scares them, they're not accustomed to see guns on a private individual."

Roberts said if an average citizen chooses to have his firearm visible to the public, they don't break any laws, but still are creating a problem.

"People can be alarmed and call the police, and the police really must respond," he said.

Roberts said officers can't take a chance that it might be just someone carrying a weapon.

"For their own safety and the safety of their citizens, police have to assume the worst," he said. "They have to be prepared this might be an active shooter and respond appropriately."

Roberts said every call like that takes the police from other things they could and should be doing.

"It uses up our precious resources," he said. "Especially, in Columbia we are very shorthanded."

Commenting on the fact the El Paso shooting suspect's mother called the Police Department weeks before the shooting because she was concerned about her son owning a firearm, and the police wasn't able to do anything, Roberts said the police did the right thing. He said if a person doesn't break any law, the police aren't in the position to do anything.

"If the family thinks someone is a risk, the only thing they can do is to go in court and ask a judge to commit someone for 96 hours [in Missouri] for observation," he said.

Roberts said if a judge believes someone should be committed to 96 hours of observation, health care professionals and psychiatrists will evaluate this person.

He said many people are also pushing for what's referred as "the red flag law."

"When someone sees a dangerous sign or warning sign that they can report that person and more quickly have that person evaluated for safety reasons," Roberts said.

He said this measure is not a solution, as some gun opponents might abuse it and "red-flag" everyone who has a gun in their possession.

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