Law ending local background checks for gun buyers goes into effect Tuesday

Monday, August 27, 2007 | 5:58 p.m. CDT; updated 6:46 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — Starting Tuesday, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department won’t have to process the roughly 2,000 applications it received yearly from those wanting to purchase handguns in Boone County.

That’s one result of the Castle Doctrine Law, formally known as SB 62, which was signed by Gov. Matt Blunt in July. It eliminates the requirement that anyone purchasing a handgun undergo a background check by law enforcement in the county where he or she resides.

Now prospective gun owners will have to go through only a federal background check, which is not as extensive as the local background check, said Maj. Tom Reddin of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

But Reddin said he doesn’t see the change as radical because the information gathered in the background check wasn’t used by law enforcement in most cases.

“It’s a misconception that we kept records so we knew who was doing what,” Reddin said. “Big Brother was not watching, we were just maintaining the records as a requirement of the service.”

The loss of local records, however, could affect investigations involving guns, said Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm.

“It might take a little longer to track down the owner of a handgun on some occasions, but it won’t prevent an investigation,” he said.

Boehm said he is also concerned that the change will lead to more handguns getting out into the community.

“The law simplifies the process of getting a handgun a little bit, and that could result in more handguns being available,” he said.

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