This article will summarize Missouri Firearms laws and is intended as a companion to our 90-minute talk (60 minutes plus questions). The talk is intended as an introduction for the average citizen and will be first given at the former Church-On-The-Loop (West side of what is now the the MARC) in Mount Vernon on Thursday 14 March 2012 at 19:00 (7pm). This article will contain the talk outline, some citations of law, and links to other resources. What is Open vs. Concealed carry? What are the rules for firearms in vehicles? What are Missouri's self-defense laws? Do I need a CCW? How do I get one?
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and although these issues have been discussed with our inside counsel, she is not your lawyer. This article represents our interpretation of the law, bolstered by opinions from local law enforcement. Please read and understand the law for yourself and consult a qualified attorney for official opinions.
Right To Keep and Bear Arms:
The Right To Keep and Bear Arms (RTKBA) is expressed in both the US and Missouri Constitutions which protect the rights of citizens to own and carry firearms for lawful purposes. Neither the US nor Missouri Constitution "creates" this right. The right is also expressed in the British Bill of Rights of 1689 and was considered a natural right (possessed by all people) by our Founders. We go into the Constitutional background and the origins of rights in more detail in our Constitution, Law, and the Auxiliary Classes (CLA-I&II).
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." ---2nd Amendment, United States Constitution
"That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons." --- Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution
Missouri allows Open Carry without a permit and Concealed Carry with a permit (Concealed Carry Weapon or CCW). There are also special rules to protect gun owners on their own property and transporting a firearm in a vehicle. Some people believe that state law may not restrict carry of firearms or require a permit (because of the pre-existing RTKBA); that is outside the scope of this talk. Here we are reporting what the state law currently says; whether or not it is right is another question. We discuss the policy of the Sheriff's Auxiliary with regards to the RTKBA in an earlier article ("Johns Hopkins Gun Policy Paper and Commentary") and go into more of the Constitutional questions in our CLA I&II classes.
Note "...shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.". The Missouri Constitution only directly protects Open Carry.
Knives >4" considered "weapons". See also RsMO 571.020 on prohibited weapons. May vary by municipality.
Black powder, cap and ball or "archaic weapons" often considered "weapons" but not "firearms" under state or federal law. Need to read law and ordinances carefully. Some refer only "firearms" and others say "...or other deadly weapon."
If a weapon is carried openly on or about the person (e.g. in a holster) then it is "Open Carry" and is generally lawful. The state sets no age limit, however, Federal law restricts minors carrying firearms without written permission of their parent or guardian and state law prohibits the sale of handguns to anyone under 21.
"While open carry is generally legal in Missouri, their preemption statute is unique in that it preempts the entire field of firearms law except for the regulation of open carry. Consequently, carrying openly in Missouri will expose you to a checkerboard of local ordinances." ---OpenCarry.org (see RsMO 21.750).
But I thought the Constitution protected Open Carry? This is a longstanding legal argument in Missouri. Courts have so far generally ruled local open carry bans Constitutional. See discussion of case law regarding regulation of the "time, place, and manner" of bearing arms in our CLA-I course notes.
List of municipalities with local ordinances includes Maplewood (34-200(j)), St. Louis (15.130.040), Cape Girardeau (17-98(5)). Municode.com is of some help and is accessible from smartphones.
Most municipalities will have rules on the discharge of firearms inside town limits (e.g. Ava Section 62-177).
It is illegal to "brandish" a weapon in a threatening manner. Threatening someone with a gun is generally only permissible in a situation where deadly force would otherwise be justified (i.e. self-defense). See RsMO 571.030.1(4).
Carrying concealed while openly armed: hunter with a rifle and a concealed handgun or knife does not require permit (RsMO 571.030.1 "... when the actor is also in possession of an exposed firearm or projectile weapon for the lawful pursuit of game"). CCW holder may carry concealed handgun during fall archery season but may not use it to hunt or dispatch game.
May carry on own property; exceptions to hunting season limitations for property owner (a) carry for defense and b) wild pigs).
May transport a firearm in a vehicle (not on person unless have CCW).
CCW RsMO 571.101: 21 or older or active duty military
- CCW FAQ
CCW allows concealed carry of other weapons besides firearms.
Must present CCW to Peace Officer on request; no law regarding store owner--- use courtesy and common sense.
Concealed versus Open Carry discussion
Open and concealed carry have different tactical goals. Open carry is a visible and active deterrent to most criminals who will see an armed victim as too risky and go elsewhere. In the rare case of a criminal determined to attack no matter what, a citizen openly carrying may become the first target. In that case, someone with a concealed weapon retains the element of surprise and can get the drop on the attacker. Concealed Carry is an indirect and difuse deterrent: the criminals never know who in a group or a store may have a gun. A mix of both Open and Concealed Carry is the most effective deterrent to crime. An excellent essay on the Florida Carry site explores these issues.
CCW info private by law.
CCW Reciprocity Maps
Local laws may be different; look them up!
Buying firearm, background check; felony to sell or give a firearm to a 'prohibited person'; Outside state, ship to FFL;
Self Defense and Deadly Force
Life in danger or prevent forcible felony
Canines must be threat.
Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground
- domicile including hotel
- car (car jacking)
- owned or rented property
Encounters with law enforcement
Terry Stop, Watch your hands
Where your MO CCW License Does not allow You to Carry
(1) Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol office or station without the consent of the chief law
(2) Within twenty-five feet of any polling place on any election day.
(3) The facility of any adult or juvenile detention or correctional institution, prison or jail.
(4) Any courthouse
(5) Any meeting of the governing body of a unit of local government; except a member of the governing body may carry
(6) The general assembly, supreme court, county or municipality may by rule, administrative regulation, or ordinance prohibit or limit the carrying of concealed firearms by endorsement holders in that portion of a building owned, leased or controlled by that unit of government.
(7) Any establishment licensed to dispense intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises, without the consent of the owner or manager.
(8) Any area of an airport to which access is controlled by the inspection of persons and property.
(9) Any place where the carrying of a firearm is prohibited by federal law;
(10) Any higher education institution or elementary or secondary school facility without the consent of the governing body
(11) Any portion of a building used as a child care facility without the consent of the manager.
(12) Any riverboat gambling operation accessible by the public without the consent of the owner or manager pursuant to rules promulgated by the gaming commission.
(13) Any gated area of an amusement park.
(14) Any church or other place of religious worship without the consent of the minister or person or persons representing the religious organization
(15) Any private property whose owner has posted the premises as being off-limits to concealed firearms by means of one or more signs displayed in a conspicuous place of a minimum size of eleven inches by fourteen inches with the writing thereon in letters of not less than one inch.
(16) Any sports arena or stadium with a seating capacity of five thousand or more.
(17) Any hospital accessible by the public.
2. Carrying of a concealed firearm in a location specified in subdivisions (1) to (17) of subsection 1 of this section by any individual who holds a concealed carry endorsement issued pursuant to sections 571.101 to 571.121 shall not be a criminal act but may subject the person to denial to the premises or removal from the premises.
§ 571.107 R.S.Mo.
Related Articles (see "Tags" at bottom of article for links to related articles by subject):
- Missouri Cattle Theft and Defense Laws; Where Does the Auxiliary Fit In?
- Sheriff's Office Frequently Asked Questions On CCW Applications
OpenCarry.org - Organization promoting Open Carry
- Open Carry Travel Map - unlicensed firearm in vehicle reference
National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Missouri Law Summary and CCW reciprocity map (what states recognize a Missouri permit?)
- This is an excellent resource and should be your starting point for looking up state-by-state firearm laws, especially if you are planning a trip.
- USA Carry.org Concealed Carry Permit Reciprocity Map - an interactive map showing which states honor which other states carry permits.
- Handgunlaws.us - another state law summary [PDF]
- Lawrence County Sheriff's Office - CCW Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 563 (RsMO 563) "Defense of Justification";
- Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 571 (RsMO 571) "Weapon Offenses";