COLUMBIA — People who want permits to carry concealed guns will face new qualification requirements beginning Aug. 28.
The changes, laid out in House Bill 294 and signed by Gov. Jay Nixon on July 8, require that training involve firing at least 50 practice rounds from both a semiautomatic pistol and a revolver as well as passing a qualification test with each type of gun.
The change in the qualification requirement was prompted by a desire to clear up confusion in the previous law.
"In fairness, there was some confusion on how to qualify," Dale Roberts, a firearms law and safety instructor at Target Masters shooting range, said. "(The law) didn't make it clear to everyone when you qualify that you had to shoot both guns."
Once the new requirements take effect later this month, conceal-and-carry training that does not meet the new requirements will not be accepted by the Boone County Sheriff's Department, even if the course was completed before Aug. 28.
Those renewing their permits, however, will not be required to meet the new proficiency requirements, Maj. Tom Reddin of the Boone County Sheriff's Department said.
In order to teach a conceal-and-carry course, instructors are required to submit their instructor credentials to the county sheriff. Courses vary, and some already meet or exceed the new requirements.
"We've always included 50 rounds with semiautomatic and revolver practice and 20 rounds with semiautomatic and revolver to qualify," Roberts said of the Target Masters class.
Since the passing in 2003 of House Bill 349, which legalized concealed guns in Missouri, 3,272 permits have been issued in Boone County, according to the sheriff's department.
The new law also will reduce the minimum age required to apply for a permit from 23 to 21, as previously reported in the Missourian. This will bring Missouri's age requirement in line with most states that issue such permits.
"There is no evidence to suggest that people that are 21 aren't as capable as people who are 23 to handle firearms," state Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said about the rationale behind the change. "We ought to treat all adults similarly."
Local gun dealers anticipate a possible increase, though slight, in handgun sales as a result of the new age requirement. As it stands, Missouri has the highest age requirement of any state for concealed-gun permits; nearly every other state requires that an applicant be at least 18 or 21.
To date, residents younger than the required minimum age could apply for a nonresident conceal-and-carry permit in another state, such as Maine, where the minimum age is 18. Missouri then would recognize that permit. Permits obtained that way sometimes are called mail-order permits.
"It was something we needed to do, (lower the age requirement) from 23 to 21, because we were the only state to have any age limit above 21, which did prompt some citizens to go out of state," state Sen. Brian Munzlinger of Williamstown said.
Although the bill doesn't alter Missouri's reciprocity laws, Roberts, who is also a former judge and has taught the annual Firearms Law seminar for the Missouri Bar Association for the past eight years, hopes the decrease in the minimum age will "lessen the need for those under 23 to go out of state because now they can qualify here."
House Bill 294 also extends permission to carry concealed weapons within the Capitol to legislative staff members and statewide elected officials and their staff who hold permits. Previously, only members of the General Assembly could carry concealed guns in the statehouse.
Members of the general public who hold permits will not be allowed to bring concealed guns into the Capitol, though.
Munzlinger said allowing the public to bring concealed guns into the Capitol would have been a tough sell.
House Bill 294 also:
- Prohibits the sales tax on any firearm or ammunition from exceeding the sales tax charged for other sporting goods or hunting equipment.
- Repeals provisions that limit the sale of rifles and shotguns only to residents of Missouri or a contiguous state.
- Allows an adult to possess a firearm on school property for the purpose of facilitating a school-sanctioned club event. It also specifies that is not unlawful for a student to participate in a club sponsored, firearm-related event.
- Allows cities and towns to regulate the use of pneumatic guns.