The new year means new rules for gun-owners in Missouri.
Effective January 1, 2017, most people will not need a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
“You don’t have to ask permission anymore, you don’t have to pay a fee anymore, and your name is not going to be on some centralized database. You have the ability to carry without the permit now,” said Paul Bastean, owner of Ultimate Defense Firing Range in St. Charles County.
Bastean, who is also a police officer and trains law enforcement, said he supports the measure, but wished training was still required.
“The bad thing is, they eliminated the training requirement. The good thing is, responsible gun owners are still coming to us and they’re still getting training,” he added.
Beyond lifting the rule about permits, the law also expands the state’s castle doctrine and creates a stand your ground right.
Before it became law, the effort to expand these gun rights drew strong opposition from many prosecutors and law enforcement leaders, including the next St. Louis Circuit Attorney, and the Chief of Police.
“We're lowering the standard. We are creating the perfect storm,” former State Representative Kim Gardner told her legislature colleagues during the veto session last year. Gardner will be sworn into office as the next St. Louis Circuit Attorney in 2017.
“If you think about it, you have to take a test to drive a car. You don't have to take a test anymore – you don't have to get any training to own a gun,” St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said, after the veto override in September.
Bastean doesn’t expect the law to lead to drastic safety changes. But he still encourages people to take a training class.
“And not just as a business owner, but as a police officer. As a father. As a husband,” he said. “I would have liked to have seen where there was some type of additional training that you still had to complete.”
Bastean said this law does not change age restrictions on carrying or owning a gun. He said it also doesn’t change the law regarding convicted felons, who cannot legally possess a firearm.