[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]
Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm has made it clear that he’s not a fan of the new conceal-and-carry gun law. After reading through it, he found a section that makes him like the law even less.
A provision in the state law that takes effect Oct. 11 allows legal owners of a handgun to conceal the weapons in their vehicle — without going through the process required to carry a concealed weapon. Under current law, handgun owners must keep their weapons in plain view while in a vehicle.
The concealed weapons law requires an eight-hour training course as well as a more extensive background check than the one involved in securing a permit to own a handgun under existing laws.
The minimum age requirement for a simple handgun permit is also lower, 21 compared to 23 for a concealed-weapons permit.
But, as Boehm discovered, none of those requirements apply to current handgun owners who wish to conceal handguns in their vehicles.
“I wish it wasn’t a part of the law,” Boehm said.
Between 1998 and 2002, 6,680 handgun permits were issued in Boone County, said Major O.J. Stone of the sheriff’s department. Every handgun must have a permit, but there is no limit to the number of registered handguns an owner may have.
People began signing up for the training classes on Sept. 12, the day after the law passed.
Target Masters, a Columbia shooting range and training center for gun owners, will offer training classes to prepare gun owners for concealed weapons permits. The eight-hour class costs about $125.
“We have 447 signed up to do the concealed-carry courses,” said Doug Grindstaff, manager of Target Masters. “We won’t be ready until the second week of October. The instructors are getting trained now.”
Meanwhile, the Boone County Sheriff’s Departmentis preparing to take applications under the conceal-and-carry law on Oct. 14, after the Columbus Day holiday weekend.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare, but now we are prepared,” Capt. Beverly Braun said Wednesday. “We just received 3,000 application forms yesterday.”
Jim Vermirsh of the Missouri Sheriff’s Association ordered 120,000 application forms for sheriffs across the state.
“I was told we’d need about 60,000 applications, so I ordered twice that many. I just mailed out a sample amount to get sheriffs going,” Vermirsh said.
Sheriffs can use their own forms if they prefer.
Law officers will not approach a vehicle any differently after Oct. 11, Chief Randy Boehm said.
“From an officer-safety standpoint, you almost always need to make that assumption, that there is a weapon in the car,” he said.