JEFFERSON CITY — Opponents of concealed guns lost a bid Tuesday for another Missouri Supreme Court hearing on their claims that the new state law imposes an unfunded mandate on sheriffs responsible for implementing it.
While denying the rehearing request, the Supreme Court finalized its Feb. 26 decision upholding the legislature’s right to legalize concealed guns but faulting the law’s funding mechanism.
Dozens of counties already have begun taking applications for concealed-gun permits because of last month’s ruling. But many others have held off because of the funding concerns cited by the Supreme Court.
Opponents of concealed guns had wanted the Supreme Court to hear arguments on additional reasons why the law allegedly violates the unfunded-mandate provisions of the Missouri Constitution.
The law, enacted when legislators overrode Gov. Bob Holden’s veto last September, allows most Missourians age 23 and older to receive concealed-gun permits from their county sheriffs after passing a firearms-training course and background check and paying a fee of up to $100.
In its original 5-2 decision, the Supreme County said the law allows the application fees to be used only for law-enforcement equipment and training — effectively barring use of the money to cover personnel costs or a $38 charge from the state Highway Patrol to check fingerprints.
The Supreme Court said the restrictions violated the unfunded-mandate prohibition in the Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution.
But the court majority also noted that the plaintiffs had not raised the question of whether the provision for a local fee met the constitutional requirement for “full state financing” for the sheriffs’ new activities. Consequently, the majority said it wasn’t addressing that issue.