As part of a major overhaul of Missouri’s gun laws approved by the Legislature this session, Missourians who want to legally carry a gun in public may soon have the option of obtaining a concealed carry permit that will last a lifetime. However, Gov. Jay Nixon must still sign the bill to make it law.
Senate Bill 656 is one of a number of Republican sponsored bills aimed at loosening the State’s gun laws that were introduced this past legislative session. SB 656 is one such measure that passed and was sent to the Governor on May 25, 2016.
Under current law, concealed carry permits must be renewed once every five years. Under a last minute amendment, SB 656 would allow a Missouri resident who meets the requirements for a concealed carry permit and pays a $500 fee to receive a concealed carry permit that is valid for the duration of the person’s life. It also provides the option for a ten-year extended concealed carry permit for $200 or a twenty-five year extended permit for $250. To renew an extended permit, the permit holder must pay $50. The lifetime and extended permits are only valid throughout the state of Missouri.
The new law also provides:
The lifetime and extended permits are still subject to the same suspension and revocation provisions that apply to permits that expire every five years. The sheriff must conduct a name-based criminal background check on extended and lifetime permit holders once every five years. The lifetime and extended concealed carry permits must include a statement that the permit is valid only throughout the state of Missouri.
If the holder of a lifetime or extended concealed carry permit becomes a resident of another state, the permit is suspended. It may be reactivated if the permit holder reestablishes Missouri residency, meets the requirements for a concealed carry permit, and passes a name-based criminal background check.
“But that is not the only pro-gun rights provision in the measure that will become law if signed by Gov. Nixon,” according to U.S. Law Shield Independent Firearms Program Attorney Deborah Alessi. “The bill also authorizes permitless carry which would allow a gun owner to carry a concealed gun wherever open carry is allowed, making a concealed-carry permit unnecessary within Missouri.”
“However,” Alessi adds, “those who still wish to avail themselves of the reciprocity agreements with other states will still need to obtain a concealed-carry permit.”
The new law also includes an expansion of Missouri’s self-defense laws by allowing a person to use deadly force in public places if they believe a reasonable threat exists.
SB 656 would expand Missouri’s Castle Doctrine protections. Under current law, a person who owns or leases private property may use deadly force in self-defense or defense of others against a person who unlawfully enters or attempts to unlawfully enter the property.
“This act provides that deadly force may also be used by any person who occupies private property with the permission of the property owner, like babysitters, or guests, for example,” says Alessi.
In addition, the measure would establish Missouri as a “stand your ground” state. Under current law, a person does not have a duty to retreat from a dwelling, residence, or vehicle they own or are lawfully occupying.
Alessi added, “This act provides that a person does not have a duty to retreat from any place before exercising deadly force in self-defense, no matter where they are, so long as they are not engaged in an unlawful activity and have a right to be there.”
Furthermore, under current law, a person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons if the person carries a concealed knife, firearm, blackjack, or another weapon readily capable of lethal use. This act provides that the crime is committed if a person carries one of the above types of weapons in an area in which a person with a concealed carry permit is restricted from carrying firearms. The penalty is lowered from a class D felony to a class B misdemeanor.
Current law exempts prosecuting and assistant prosecuting attorneys and circuit and assistant circuit attorneys from provisions criminalizing certain unlawful uses of weapons. This act specifies that municipal and county prosecuting attorneys, assistant prosecuting attorneys, circuit attorneys, and assistant circuit attorneys are exempt and adds municipal, associate circuit, and circuit judges to the list of persons who are exempt. Current law also exempts full time chiefs of fire departments and fire districts from certain otherwise unlawful uses of weapons. This act expands the exemption to apply to full-time fire department and fire district members.
The act of carrying a concealed weapon onto private property whose owner has posted the premises as being off-limits with appropriate signage is declared not to be a criminal act. The person may be removed from the premises and fined. This provision has a delayed effective date of January 1, 2017 and provides that certain Class D felonies of unlawful use of weapons will be Class E felonies to align with penalty modifications that will take effect on that date.
Gov. Nixon has not given any indication as to whether or not he will sign the bill, but indicated that the package would be closely scrutinized.
“I’m going to have to look at this and balance what I believe is right for Missouri and the right to bear arms with the other issues involved,” Nixon told reporters after lawmakers adjourned May 13. “This is a significant shift in this area to give people the lawful right to carry.”