Bill Could Lower Conceal and Carry Requirements

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JEFFERSON CITY (AP) -- A bill lowering the age to get a concealed gun permit in Missouri is now just one step from the governor's desk. The Senate voted 27-6 Wednesday to pass a bill lowering the concealed gun age to 21 -- the same age at which people can legally drink alcohol. The bill needs only a final House vote to go to Gov. Jay Nixon.

Missouri's current minimum age of 23 was set when lawmakers overrode a veto by then-Gov. Bob Holden to enact a concealed-carry law in 2003. The National Rifle Association says Missouri's age restriction is the highest among states that allow concealed gun permits.

This year's bill also would allow state officials and their staff to carry concealed guns in the Capitol if they have permits.

"Some states conceal and carry laws are as low as 18 or 19 and most that have conceal and carry are 21. No state has one as old as 23, so this puts us on par with most other states," said Senator Brian Munzlinger, R-Lewistown, who sponsored the bill.

But some who oppose the measure believe it should require more training for new permit applicants.

"It's about decision making. I understand the 21 year olds who want to have a permit, but I think they need more training on how and when to use their weapon," said Senator Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis.

One of the positives to lowering the age is revenue. Some Missourians who have gone out of state to get a permit from a state with lower requirements, may get permits from Missouri if the measure passes. This would bring revenue in through class costs and permit fees.

"Now those 21 and 22 years olds can get their permit here as opposed to going out of state to get one," said Jim Hill, a conceal and carry instructor and manager of Target Master's shooting range in Columbia.

Hill also said that many of those 21 and 22 year olds have guns and are allowed to carry them in their car, but since they're not required to go through the training many don't know proper gun safety and use. Now, these gun owners will get required training as part of the permit program.

The bill now goes to the House which has already passed a previous version of the bill. If the House passes the amended version it will next go to the Governor for his signature or veto.