The gun-rights lobby just won a major victory in Missouri. As of January 1, Missourians will be able to legally carry concealed firearms without a permit, foregoing the training course and background check the law previously required. Certain public places, such as courtrooms and jails, are still off limits to concealed carry, but now a violation of that rule will be considered a misdemeanor rather than a felony. The law also implements a “stand your ground” provision, adding Missouri to the list of states that no longer require an individual to retreat before using deadly force. That change goes into effect earlier, on October 14.
Missouri Republican lawmakers overrode a gubernatorial veto to approve the bill on Wednesday. Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, rejected the bill because, he said, it would allow “individuals to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they have been or would be denied a permit because their background check revealed criminal offenses or caused the sheriff to believe they posed a danger.” Republican legislators responded by quashing a Democratic filibuster and forcing a vote on the bill; it passed handily in the state House and Senate pretty much along party lines. The NRA called the approval of the new gun law “a great day for freedom in Missouri.”
Background checks are still required to purchase a firearm, and people can still apply for concealed-carry permits if they want them — and they’ll need one to carry across state lines in those that have reciprocity. But, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, county sheriffs will now have a harder time denying people permits over red flags in background checks. Sheriff Gary Toelke of Franklin County, which borders on St. Louis County, told the Post-Dispatch: “I have no problem with the original law. I could refuse a permit for somebody who has had frequent contact with the law, or who is a suicide threat. Now that person will be able to carry a concealed weapon, and that concerns me.”
GOP legislators in Missouri’s House and Senate overrode another one of many gubernatorial vetoes on that same Wednesday, this one concerning the state’s voter-ID laws. Lawmakers again forced a vote, and again overrode Nixon’s veto on a law that requires voters to show government-issued identification at polling stations starting in 2017. However, actual voters will have the final say on that one, in a proposed constitutional amendment that will appear on this year’s ballot. (The Missouri Supreme Court declared its 2006 voter-ID law unconstitutional.) Even if the amendment passes, the law could face a court challenge, despite being less restrictive than some other states’ voter-ID laws.