Permits for guns nearing reality

The Ashland and Hallsville police will take the applications.
Thursday, March 11, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:30 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Residents of Boone County will be able to apply for concealed-gun permits through the Ashland or Hallsville police departments under agreements being finalized with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm said he expects the agreements with Hallsville and Ashland police to be finalized soon and the issuing of permits to begin May 1.

For each application, $38 of the permit fee would go to the Missouri Highway Patrol for background checks and $62 would be forwarded to the Boone County Sher-

iff’s Department. In turn, the Ashland and Hallsville departments would invoice the sheriff’s department for the cost of processing the applications and issuing the permits.

“I think we’re looking at a monthly billing cycle for everyone concerned,” said Ashland Police Chief Mel Rupard, who has been working with Boehm and Hallsville police to come to an agreement.

Boehm said the agreements being worked out with Hallsville and Ashland are designed “to get around the Hancock Amendment.”

The Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution says the state legislature cannot impose additional duties on local governments without appropriating money to implement them. At issue is a provision in the concealed-gun law that requires sheriffs to charge concealed-gun applicants a processing fee of up to $100. The law directs the money to local accounts that can only be used for law enforcement equipment and training.

Under the law, fees for concealed-gun permits must be paid to local sheriff’s departments. While the law restricts how sheriff’s departments can use the fees, Boehm said it doesn’t appear to prohibit them from contracting with other law enforcement agencies to process the permits.

“If I designate this to the chief of police in these (cities), I can use this fee that we charge to pay the chief for processing it,” Boehm said. “The law allows me to take monies from this application fee and pay the municipalities for processing the application.”

Since the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state’s concealed-gun law, county sheriffs have struggled to understand it, with some taking applications for concealed gun permits and others opting to wait for clarification on the law from legislators.

Cole County Sheriff John Hemeyer announced last week that he will begin accepting and processing conceal-and-carry permit applications today He has asked that applicants bring $38 for the Missouri Highway Patrol C.R.I.D. Fund and $62 for the Sheriff’s Revolving Training and Equipment Fund.

“Any law — you are going to have different interpretations,” said Hemeyer. “It’s clear to me that the highway patrol charges $38. I don’t have $38, the county doesn’t have $38. The law says you can collect up to $100 for that (training and equipment) fund. I am charging less.”

Boehm said he considered doing the same thing as Hemeyer, but that the county’s legal counsel advised him against it.

“We presented that idea to our attorneys and they said ‘no’ to it,” Boehm said. “And so we have gone back to the drawing board.”

Camden County Sheriff John Page said he planned to split his fees much as Hemeyer plans to do, and his office had devised procedures to start processing applications. But, Page said, his reading of the state Supreme Court’s decision prohibits splitting the fees.

“We were under the understanding that the intention was for us to take our cost out of the $100,” Page said. “With the present Supreme Court opinion, it doesn’t appear possible that we can do that.”

Page said Camden County’s proposal is being reviewed by county commissioners and legal advisors.

Scott Holste, spokesman for the Attorney General, says sheriffs are still being encouraged to wait until the legislature decides how the fees can be used before issuing permits.

“It’s not a matter of some sheriffs being able to make them available,” Holste said. “Some are just choosing to go ahead and proceed and others to wait.”

Attorney General Jay Nixon, working with the law’s authors, Rep. Larry Crawford and Sens. Harold Caskey and Jim Mathewson, has proposed language to resolve the funding problems. But bills containing the proposed solution have not been referred to committees in either the House or the Senate.

Nixon said last week: “I don’t know that the leadership in the House and Senate are as concerned about solving the problems out there for the sheriffs.”

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