Conceal-and-carry still not clear

Boone County’s sheriff says he will wait to issue gun permits.
Sunday, February 29, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:08 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

While some counties began to issue concealed weapons permits Friday, Boone County gun owners will have to wait a while longer to get their permits.

Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm will wait until after he meets with his staff, the county’s legal advisor and the chiefs of the Ashland and Hallsville police departments Monday before he will issue permits in Boone County.

“Hopefully, we can start accepting applications Wednesday,” Boehm said.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the legislature had the right to make a law allowing concealed weapons. However, the court said that the part of the law requiring that the $100 permit fee only be used for equipment and training could constitute an unconstitutional, unfunded mandate, according to the Hancock Amendment of the Missouri Constitution.

The court said there was already an unfunded mandate in the four counties that presented evidence: Camden, Cape Girardeau, Greene and Jackson.

Whether Boone County will try to prove it has an unfunded mandate will be determined during Monday’s meetings.

In a letter sent Friday afternoon, the Missouri Sheriff’s Association advised sheriffs to prepare to issue the permits but to at least wait until the actual costs for issuing the permits could be calculated. Sheriffs would have to charge fees equal to their actual costs to avoid either overcharging or undercharging; overcharging might constitute an unconstitutional tax and undercharging would constitute an unfunded mandate.

The letter also said that the time it would take to calculate these costs would give the legislature some time to work out the funding problems.

But Boehm said he believes the costs should have been calculated and given to the legislators while the bill was being written.

“I think that we may be a day late and a dollar short to do that,” he said.

At least three legislators — Rep. Larry Crawford, R-Centertown, Sen. John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, and Sen. Harold Caskey, D-Butler — have filed or will file bills amending the concealed weapons law. The amendments would add a sentence to the bill allowing sheriffs to use “any reasonable expenses relating to accepting and processing the application required pursuant to section 571.101 RSMo,” as stated in Cauthorn’s amendment.

“Missouri’s conceal-and-carry law was drafted and adopted in a manner consistent with these principles and my provision makes bulletproof — and lawyer-proof — a responsible permitting program for carrying concealed weapons,” Cauthorn said in a press release.

Attorney John Patton, Boone County’s legal advisor, declined to comment until after he had a chance to meet with Boehm face-to-face Monday.

The Ashland and Hallsville police departments, which have volunteered to help process the concealed weapons permits, will also be meeting with the sheriff Monday. They are not currently issuing permits.

“I think we’ve waited 13 years to get to this point, and I want to make sure that Boone County is doing what the Supreme Court has asked us to do and that we’re abiding by the law that has been ruled constitutional,” Boehm said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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