KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On New Year’s Day — Missouri will join Kansas and several other states that have eliminated the requirement for a concealed carry license.
Senate Bill 656 will go into effect, allowing people to carry concealed guns in public without a permit. There are exceptions, such as felons and domestic violence abusers.
In Missouri, getting a concealed carry license requires people to pass a firearms training class, go to the sheriff’s department where they run a background check, and then issues the license. Those requirements go away in just a few days.
“I lost a tool. A very important tool to prevent that next act of violence,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said.
Baker says when the bill goes into effect, she will be forced to drop charges on over 100 gun cases that are currently charged. Currently, those suspects are accused of carrying around a gun without a permit, but in a few days, it will be okay.
“Those were opportunities for us to reach out before a violent act had occurred. Now the Missouri Legislature says I must wait,” Baker said.
Kevin Jamieson, who is an outspoken proponent of the bill, says the bad guys will get guns no matter what the law says. He maintains that making it easier for people to carry concealed weapons actually allows people to better defend themselves, and saves lives instead of increasing crime.
“There is no possible way you can point to anything in this bill and show me it is going to allow bad guy to have guns or carry guns,” Jamieson said. “This is an advantage to people who suddenly pick up a stalker or some dangerous situation, they can carry something for personal protection until they take the class.”
Kristy Baughman, with the Rose Brooks domestic violence center, is against SB 656.
“The instances women successfully use a weapon to protect themselves against an abuser are very few and far between, and they are much more likely to have that weapon used against them in a dangerous situation,” Baughman said.
According to federal law, background checks are still required for gun purchases from dealers. But she says eliminating the permitting process eliminates the secondary background check by the sheriff’s department, which she believes catches domestic violence abusers who may get guns other ways.
“What I know is that any barrier we have to keep in place firearm out of the hands of an abuser, I want to keep it in place. And so, I think that this new bill removes one of those barriers,” she said.
No matter what side of the issue they were on – everyone interviewed stressed that while firearms training classes are no longer required, they strongly urge everyone who owns a gun to still take them. It is something they say will keep gun owners and their families safe.