Background checks eased by gun law

The measure will not affect the mandatory federal security check.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:38 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Missourians will no longer have to get a permit from their local sheriff’s office before they buy a pistol.

With the governor’s signing last week of Senate Bill 62, also called the Castle Doctrine Law, Missourians can buy a handgun without undergoing a background check by local law enforcement. Currently, prospective gun owners must pay a $10 fee to their local sheriff’s department and undergo a background check for each handgun they buy, in addition to the mandated federal background check.

Inside the law

The Castle Doctrine Law, which Gov. Matt Blunt signed last week, will change the process for Missourians purchasing a firearm. Before: Missourians must pay a $10 fee to their local sheriff to undergo a local background check for each firearm purchased in addition to a federal background check. After: No local background check is necessary, but a federal background check is still required.

The new law does not affect the requirement to undergo a federal background check before purchasing a handgun or the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Local law enforcement agencies began requiring gun permits in the 1920s under a Jim Crow law, said Rep. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, who introduced the proposal. The permit law was designed to prevent blacks from getting a handgun, and it duplicates the federal requirements for purchasing a gun, he said.

Lee Brandkamp, owner of Powderhorn Sporting Goods in Columbia, said that the requirement was redundant and unnecessary.

“We have to do a NICS on every customer anyway,” Brandkamp said, referring to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that all purchasers of firearms must go through before they purchase a gun.

“It’s about time,” said Carl Armontrout, a Powderhorn employee. The only people complying with the law were law-abiding citizens, Armontrout said.

But Maj. Tom Reddin of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department said he is ambivalent about the change in the law.

“It’s going to take a load off of the Sheriff’s Department,” he said. The department processes 2,000 applications to purchase a handgun per year.

But by eliminating the requirement, “we are going to the other extreme” of deregulation, Reddin said.

Reddin said he would like to see a system where the sheriff’s department can issue a permit to a citizen to purchase an unlimited number of handguns for a period of around three years.

Munzlinger began his efforts to repeal the permit law with House Bill 462. That piece of legislation was merged with Senate Bill 62 in the general laws committee and approved 151-6 in the House and 29-3 in the Senate.

What will become of Boone County’s permit records is not yet clear. Reddin said there are no plans right now to destroy them, and Munzlinger said the disposition of those records is not addressed by the new law.

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m srite July 11, 2007 | 11:13 p.m.

Good job, Will. The only thing I'd change is the sentence that starts: "The permit law was designed to prevent blacks from getting a handgun." I reckon many blacks would get many handguns. That way, they wouldn't have to share.


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