Missouri gun owners will now be able to carry concealed weapons without a permit or any training.
The new gun laws took affect January 1-- including one KC police chief Daryl Forte fought against.
The law, which was passed by the Republican-led legislature despite a veto by outgoing Gov. Jay Nixon, expands the state’s “castle doctrine,” which permits homeowners to use deadly force against intruders. The revised law will allow invited guests, like babysitters, to use lethal force.
The measure also would create a “stand-your-ground” right, meaning people no longer would need to retreat from danger before shooting in any place they are legally entitled to be present.
Kansas City police chief Darryl Forte says even though professional training is no longer mandatory, people should still get it for the well-being of anyone who comes into their home.
In a blog post, Forte points out several instances where children were victims of accidental gun violence. That includes both a 18-month-old girl who shot and killed herself and a 5-year-old boy who accidentally killed his 3-year-old brother.
He also said research by Innocents Lost found that 70 percent of unintentional child gun deaths could have been prevented by proper storage alone.
That includes using gun locks, which are given out at the KCPD.
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Nicole Waugh said in an email that the new laws will make Missouri safer and allow law-abiding gun owners to carry firearms and protect themselves.
Opponents argue the opposite.
“Now there will be people among us when we’re out with our kids who are carrying concealed firearms without any training at all. Some of them could be dangerous people,” said Becky Morgan, leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “That’s just our new reality.”
The first comprehensive overhaul of Missouri’s criminal laws since 1979 will finally take effect, two years after lawmakers passed the changes in 2014.
The 600-page revision of the criminal code reduces possible prison sentences for some nonviolent drug crimes, and jail time will no longer be a possibility for first-time offenders convicted of possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana. Possessing up to 35 grams of the drug was punishable by up to a year in prison under the previous criminal code.
“The smaller amounts are not what we need to be concerned with,” said state Sen. Bob Dixon, a Springfield Republican who helped draft the legislation.
Also under the bill, people who drive while intoxicated or sexually abuse their family members would face harsher prison sentences than under current law.
Other changes include more options for sentencing in felony cases.
A new misdemeanor class also will be enacted that won’t include jail time as a possibility. Crimes that fall under that category include driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Missouri Bar President Dana Tippin Cutler said the overhaul “will make better use of taxpayer funds.”
Critics say the proposal did not receive enough vetting. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon allowed it to pass into law without his signature.
Welfare and health-related laws
The Department of Social Services will contract with a private company to check welfare recipients’ eligibility for benefits, including food stamps, child care, Medicaid and cash welfare payments. The law calls for a private company to flag questionable cases for state employees to review further. It would still be up to agency staff to make a final determination of eligibility.
Health insurers will be required to cover “medically necessary” mental and physical treatment of eating disorders provided by licensed experts under another new law. The goal is to ensure families have access to care for not just the physical aspects of eating disorders, but also the underlying mental issues.
Another law adds “bubble boy disease” to a list of conditions infants are screened for in Missouri. Severe combined immunodeficiency affects about one in 50,000 live births. It impairs the immune system, making infants susceptible to infections. Screenings will only take place if lawmakers set aside enough money for tests.