New gun law concerns sheriffs
DeLay: Missourians at risk of arrest in neighboring states
The law enforcement community has expressed mixed feelings about the Missouri General Assembly's veto override of the bill removing permit requirements for those carrying concealed weapons.
"This entire bill is a mess," said Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay. "It basically does absolutely nothing but add confusion to an already confusing law."
DeLay pointed out Missouri was already an open carry state for firearms and allowed citizens to carry a weapon concealed in their vehicle without a permit.
"Unfortunately, I am afraid that the legislature has just put Missouri citizens at risk of arrest in other states," DeLay said. "As of this moment, it is still not clear what is going to happen and how it is going to happen. Sheriffs across the state are waiting for a legal interpretation of what has just happened. We do not know if CCW, [concealed and carry weapons], permits in general are now invalid in Missouri.
"If this is the case, it presents an even further issue for Missouri residents who travel out of state. Currently, other states reciprocate our CCW permit because we have a CCW law. However, if that law is not invalid, then they will no longer be able to reciprocate our law and permits because we no longer have a law for permits."
DeLay said another issue he thinks will cause more problems is that fact that Missouri allows constitutional carry, but that does not reciprocate with other states.
"That means that while a person is perfectly legal to do so in Missouri, if the cross state lines into Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, etc., they could and probably would be arrested for carrying a concealed firearm without a permit, which is a felony in many states," he said.
Until clarification is forthcoming, DeLay encourages Missourians to continue as they did prior to the legislature's action. He recommended continuing to file for a CCW permit for the protection of the gun owner.
Other issues in the new law also raised concerns to DeLay.
"Training is a big issue as it deals with safety," he said. "I am all for constitutional carry. I do believe it is our right as citizens, but with that right also comes a huge responsibility. There are those who do have that right but have no business with a firearm. At this point, this is just something that the public will have to learn to deal with."
Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly could not see the point of the change.
"I liked it the way it was," Epperly said. "That way, people had to go though some training. A lot of women may never have handled a pistol before doing the training. There were thousands of people who took the concealed carry class and spent their hard-earned money to get a permit. Now, they can do that without the expense. I feel for them. I'm sure they would have probably waited if they had known this was going to happen.
"I don't know why they [the legislators] made that decision. We voted the right way. Things were working. If someone had a felony, they didn't even apply for a conceal carry permit. There were 10 states that followed along with Missouri's conceal-carry policy all around Missouri, except for Illinois."
Epperly said he had not talked to his officers about the new law year, adding he felt he needed to study it more and think about its ramifications. He understood the constitutional rights argument. However, he had reservations about what might happen because of the change.
"The new law lets everyone carry," he said. "Joe Doe, who has a felony, is liable to be carrying now. That's a concern of mine. If we stop someone on a traffic stop, now we have to be a little more cautious."