JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. - Getting a concealed carry permit in Missouri will be a lot easier starting Wednesday. The local sheriff's offices will now print gun permits, instead of the Missouri Department of Revenue.
That means Missourians can make just one stop to get their permit. Previously, they would have to visit the sheriff's office to obtain clearance, then wait for the Department of Revenue to approve the permit, before waiting again at the Department of Motor Vehicles to pick up the card.
Now, Missourians can simply go to their local sheriff's office and get a printed permit within 10-20 minutes.
The new law, as part of Senate Bill 75, will also protect those who own firearms from having their information leaked to the public, by making sure any record of gun ownership is not open record.
The bill stems from something that put Missouri under fire several months ago, when the Department of Revenue reportedly released a list of the state's concealed carry permit holders in response to a social security inquiry.
Gun owners were livid.
"This new law protects those of us who own a firearm. If you have the right to carry, you have the right to have a firearm, and that information is nobody's business," said Don Pind, a Claycomo firearms instructor. "I like the idea of the sheriff's office protecting that information."
Several other changes also take effect Wednesday. Applicants no longer need to be U.S. citizens; permanent residents can apply for concealed carry permits.
Permits will be valid for five years, up from three years.
Also, the concealed carry permit will no longer have the permit holder's photo.
The new law comes at a time when a record number of Missourians are getting concealed carry permits.
This year alone, 5,024 people have applied for permits as of August 27. In the past 8 years, a total of 15,103 have obtained permits.
Pind says more of his clients are buying firearms for personal safety.
"I'm finding my classes are getting older. People in their 40s, 50s, 60s who never really thought they needed a gun, but because of what's happened in their neighborhood, all of a sudden they want one," he explained.
He hopes with the spiking number of permit holders, people will take gun ownership seriously.
"It's kind of like turning a kid loose with a car. Most don't realize the danger they just know they're mobile. Carrying a weapon is the same thing. You're responsible for it."