Starting January 1, you can carry a concealed weapon without a permit in Missouri. An eight-hour training class and background check will no longer be required to carry a gun concealed.
The move is being celebrated by proponents who say it gives people in Missouri the ability to protect themselves based on their constitutional right.
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp said, "I'm a gun proponent. I'm a big believer of the constitution but but I think people ought to at least be trained and have the knowledge of what the laws are when it comes to using and carrying a gun."
That is where people we talked to have concerns; getting rid of the mandatory training.
"People that pick up a gun that have no training, not only in how to operate the gun because you have to first know how to operate it. Second, knowing what the laws are when you can use a gun when you can't use a gun. I think these are all things that quite honestly have been left out," said Scott Mosher, director of training at Frontier Justice in Lees Summit.
He believes training is extremely important and after putting over 6,000 people through concealed carry class he urges everyone, even after it's no longer required, to take the course.
He's not alone. David Baker, a Vietnam War veteran from Lee's Summit thinks, "Basically unless you have the education and the knowledge and the training to carry a concealed carry, then you shouldn't be out there doing it."
Mike Ardoin agreed, "Because it makes everybody a little bit safer. You have to think a little bit about it. Everybody wants to come in, buy a gun, stick it in their pocket, then they go out and get themselves killed or they do something stupid."
Currently, sheriffs across the state are responsible for running the background checks on people who apply for a concealed carry permit. "We process them. We run a background check to make sure they're not a convicted felon or have had any other charges with a propensity to violence. We can deny on city charges that were of a domestic violence nature or of an aggravated assault type nature." That too, will end in 2016.
"What bothers me is the new law gives those that we wouldn't have allowed to have a concealed carry permit, gives them the opportunity now to carry one," Sharp added.
Jackson County District Attorney Jean Peters Baker sent 41 Action News this statement on the law:
On Jan. 1, prosecutors and police will lose an important tool in preventing violence and protecting certain victims. In Jackson County alone more than 100 felony gun cases are pending. Each of them will be impacted by this change in state law.
Concealed carry of a firearm, even if loaded, will not be a felony and in some cases not illegal at all. This law helped law enforcement prevent future violence.
Here’s a recent example of the real-world impacts of this change in law. About this time last year, a concerned resident called police. He lived in the area of 26th and Cleveland and had spotted some young men sitting in a vehicle. They were armed and looked suspicious. Police responded and found all three of the suspects were armed with loaded handguns. They were charged with carrying concealed weapons.
One suspect had pending charges, including a prior gun charge, and bond restrictions stated he should not have guns. He also had been identified as a member of a violent group. He had a prior gun charge.
But, in the future, such arrests and charges may not be possible.
“My fear is that not only does this law hinder the prevention of violence, but it also places domestic violence victims at greater risk," said Baker.
Dia Wall can be reached at email@example.com.