New gun law affects concealed carry permits

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COLUMBIA — The Boone County Sheriff's Department has noticed a decrease in the number of concealed carry permit applications and renewals since a new law took effect in January, according to Boone County Sheriff's Department Major Tom Reddin.

"When Senate Bill 656 was introduced during the last legislative session, we started seeing a decrease in the number of applications at that point," Reddin said. "Then in the veto override session, then yes, we saw significant decreases in the number of CCW applications being submitted."

170 people applied for a new concealed carry permit in January 2016.  That number went down to just 23 in the same time period this year.

That is the lowest number the sheriff's department has seen in more than five years.

However, the new law hasn't had an effect on concealed carry classes. 

Joe Gilbert, a concealed carry instructor at Target Masters said his classes are still full.

"We’re still teaching a class every month and it fills up, so we haven’t seen any difference," Gilbert said. "Most of the people that come in, when they speak to us and we explain the differences being able to carry with a permit and without, they opt to go ahead and have the training and take the class."

Although a permit is no longer required, both Reddin and Gilbert said they recommend gun owners still take the time to learn proper gun safety. 

"Whether somebody’s going to get a permit or not," Reddin said. "I strongly recommend that they go through some training and get the knowledge and the skill set going before they start carrying concealed or openly."

Gilbert said he believes the people who take his classes know that it is the responsible thing to do.

"I think that’s why our classes haven’t slowed down," Gilbert said. "People understand what they need to know, then they’re more likely to seek the training."

Gilbert said he is concerned people carrying without being properly trained could become "accidental criminals."

"If I carry a gun and I have a concealed carry permit and I carry it into a forbidden place, like a hospital, then it’s a non-criminal offense," Gilbert said. "But, if someone without a permit does, then it is a criminal offense."

Reddin said gun laws can be confusing.

"There have been changes to concealed carry virtually every year since it passed in Missouri," Reddin said. "Getting people to keep up on those changes has always been a challenge."

Although the law has had an effect on concealed carry permits, gun sales seem to have remained the same. 

Workers at Powder Horn Guns and Sporting, Black Rifle LLC, Target Masters, Modern Arms Guns and Tiger Pawn all reported that gun sales had not been affected. 

Reddin said it is important to remember that this new gun law only applies to Missouri. A concealed carry permit is still required in order to carry across state lines.