The Corner

Guns in Missouri

The gun-prohibition lobby has suffered a major defeat in the Missouri supreme court.

Today the court ruled that Missouri’s new law to create concealed-handgun permits for licensed, trained citizens who pass a background check. The law was enacted last fall, when the Missouri legislature over-rode the governor’s veto. The gun-prohibition lobbies quickly filed suit against the new law, shopped for an anti-gun judge, and obtained a temporary injunction against the concealed-carry law. The Missouri supreme court overturned the injunction, thereby allowing the law to go into effect.

Article I, section 23, of the Missouri constitution states: “That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.” The obvious meaning of the final clause is that concealed carry is not part of the right to keep and bear arms. The Missouri legislature could prohibit concealed carry entirely, could allow unrestricted concealed carry, or could allow concealed carry under certain circumstances. The Missouri legislature chose the third option: prohibiting concealed carry except for people who are given a license according to state standards.

The gun prohibition groups made the preposterous argument–with the trial judge in Saint Louis accepted–that the constitutional clause forbids concealed carry under all circumstances. The Missouri supreme court rejected this absurd claim. The court wrote: “There is no constitutional prohibition against the wearing of concealed weapons; there is only a prohibition against invoking the right to keep and bear arms to justify the wearing of concealed weapons.” A contrary decision would have made it illegal for even police officers to carry concealed guns.

Not long ago, the New Mexico supreme court rejected a similarly nonsensical claim against a new concealed-carry law in the Land of Enchantment.

The Missouri supreme court did rule that the new law cannot go into effect in four counties, because the law, at least arguably, imposes an unfunded mandate on local law enforcement for the cost of issuing the permits. The Missouri constitution’s “Hancock Amendment” prohibits unfunded mandates. Sheriffs are allowed to charge a fee of up to $100, but a few sheriffs have argued that the fee is inadequate. It is expected that the issue regarding appropriate fees will not be difficult to fix by the state legislature.


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