Missouri House weighs loosening concealed weapon rules

Thursday, February 25, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — A state House panel considered loosening Missouri's restrictions on carrying concealed guns by lowering the minimum age to get a permit and extending the time before a permit would need to be renewed.

Supporters say Missouri should make it easier for people to get concealed firearm permits because it improves safety. There was little opposition voiced during a House agriculture committee's hearing Wednesday about seven gun bills.

Missouri began issuing conceal-carry permits in 2004. Currently, applicants for a permit to carry a concealed gun in Missouri must be at least 23 years old, live in the state, have no felony convictions and pass a firearms training course and background check to qualify for a Missouri concealed weapon permit. That permit needs to be renewed after three years.

Several House members proposed dropping the minimum age to 21 and increasing the renewal period to five years. Another would lower the minimum age to 18.

Nationwide, more than two-thirds of states require applicants to be at least 21 years old. Others allow permits to be issued at age 18.

Rep. Mike Parson, a former sheriff in southwestern Missouri, sponsored legislation that would extend the renewal to five years but require permit-holders to get updates on new state gun laws every three years. Parson, R-Bolivar, also proposed increasing the license renewal fee to help cover those lessons.

Parson said those renewing their permits are responsible, and lawmakers should strive to smooth the process for carrying a concealed gun.

"These are not people who abuse it," said Parson.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp warned lawmakers that extending the renewal periods could create financial problems, particularly in more populous counties. Sharp said that in 2008 — the first year that Jackson County handled permit renewal — his office issued 1,950 new permits and renewed 897. Last year, the office handled 2,636 new permits and 540 renewals.

Sharp estimated that his agency would lose $36,000 per year in 2014 and 2015 when the longer renewal would first take effect.

"We're not out to make money, but I have to maintain a level of service," said Sharp, who noted that he supports allowing concealed gun permits.

The National Rifle Association supported the bills and argued that the legislation would help Missourians protect themselves.

House members also proposed allowing military training to count toward getting a state concealed gun permit and letting prosecutors who are trained bring a concealed gun into court.

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Chris Meissen February 26, 2010 | 7:17 p.m.

It's good that Missouri's lawmakers are considering lowering the minimum age (now the highest in the country) to get a CCW. Those 18 are considered old and wise enough to vote, to choose our nation's and states leaders. They are old enough to enlist in the military and operate powerful weapons risking their lives for their country. And they have the same right to protect themselves that any other human being has. They should be allowed to have a CCW permit under the same rules as anyone else. As for renewals and renewal fees, it take a sheriff's deputy or clerk less than five minutes to call MULES and confirm that the valid permit is still valid. The renewal fee should be lowered to $10 instead of the $50 it costs today. The exercise of a fundamental right should not involve paying a tax to the government or one's sheriff.

(Report Comment)
Dan Dothage March 4, 2010 | 1:35 a.m.

I think it's great that our legislators are actually doing the will of the people (Now if only the Federal-level politicians would!) and allowing more Missourians to enjoy their freedom. I'm good with keeping the costs the same and increasing the term of the permit. As long as it is not some outrageous fee, the county's need to recoup some of the costs for time and processing. $50 isn't unreasonable now...keep it there, MO lawmakers.

(Report Comment)

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