Mid-Missourians Mostly Support New Gun Law

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COLUMBIA - Mid-Missourians said Monday they are mostly in favor toward a new gun law lowering the concealed carry age from 23 to 21. Governor Jay Nixon signed House Bill 294 into law Friday, changing laws regarding firearms, ammunition and concealed carry endorsements.

Target Masters in Columbia is one of several shops in the Mid-Missouri area teaching concealed carry classes. Manager Barry McKenzie said those classes train people to be responsible when handling firearms.

"It should have always been that way and I think the legislature decided that they would correct past laws and make it compatible with other states," McKenzie said.

He expects business to pick up once word spreads about the new law. While 21 year olds can already take the class and wait until they're 23 to receive their licenses, he said he hopes more young people will take an interest in gun safety.

"I think eventually business will pick up once word gets around about the bill," he said. "We've already had younger people calling about taking the class."

However, not everyone is on board with the change. Emmi Weiner, an MU student, said she is not sure if younger people should be allowed to carry guns on the streets.

"I know some of my friends I'd trust with guns, and some of them I wouldn't," she said. "But most people, I'd say, you couldn't trust."

She worries younger people carrying guns could cause the downtown area to become more dangerous. "Especially with fights that happen already, if someone had a gun there, it would end badly," she said.

One big change in the law is that the state now allows college-aged students to carry a concealed weapon. But the MU campus still prohibits gun possession there.

According to the National Rifle Association, Missouri is one of 40 "Right to Carry" states, that allows residents to earn concealed carry licenses. The law changes take effect August 28, 2011.