The wife and I have had our conceal carry permits for some time now, and the time to renew rolled around again late in 2013. Honestly, I dread dealing with the government at all, so I put it off for as long as possible. Finally, on a day we both had a little spare time, we headed downtown. My wife, wise in the ways of the world, suggested calling ahead to make sure they were going to be open until 5:00. I called the Sheriff’s office and a pleasant woman said yes, they’d be open until 5:00, but that the deputy in charge of renewing licenses wouldn’t take renewals after 4:00 PM for some inexplicable reason. Since it was 3:50 PM at the time, we knew we weren’t going to make it, turned around and headed back home . . .
A few days later, I arrived at the Civil Courts building. It’s a magnificent edifice, an embodiment of the ideals of justice, even as its minions inside struggle to meet those ideals. I walked in, strolled past the “no guns allowed sign” and headed up to the Sheriff’s office. My cell phone said 3:52 PM, but on that particular day, the deputy in charge of CCW renewals decided that 4:00 came at 3:52.
I left pissed off, even though the receptionist was as pleasant as one could expect. Then I did what any resident who’d been ill-served by city government should do – I called my alderman and complained.
I returned again a day or two later and was met by the same pleasant lady. She’s a small woman, soft spoken. Her desk faces the people who walk in and she’s quick to rise and meet them at the counter. On the desk, she has some very positive notes about being kind and thoughtful – I wish I had taken a photo to share. My point is that this woman was a tremendous ambassador for the city’s government and my ire at the previous inconvenience evaporated with her smiling professionalism.
My arrival this time was early enough not to qualify as “after 4:00 PM” even by the loosest definition, and the deputy – the same guy – was willing to process my paperwork. Lucky me. I paid my 50 bucks (plus an extra 10 for being late) and in short order he handed me the piece of paper that is my new permit.
While the permit has an official state seal on it, it’s still just a slip of paper. Apparently the state law has changed and your permit no longer needs to be processed by the Department of Motor Vehicles, which means instead of a slick, well-manufactured ID card with my mug on it, my new permit is a slip of paper that looks like it was cobbled together by an office manager with Microsoft Word and a laser printer.
On one hand, I’m delighted to be finished with the process and can skip a trip to the DMV. On the other, this seems a bit cheesy, beneath the gravity of the permit itself. Will other states know that this slip of paper is the official State of Missouri permit? The deputy, who is an otherwise pleasant enough fellow, let me know that the state has yet to fully get its act together and provide the fancy system needed to make official state IDs. I’m free to laminate my card if I want, but I can’t make a copy. Only the original version that’s countersigned by his boss is the real deal. On the upside, the permit is now good for five years. On the downside, I have to make a slip of copy paper last for five years in my wallet.
Weeks later, my wife and I head downtown again. We have to go through the metal detector, and I go first. Then she places her purse on the conveyor. I can see the X-ray and the colorful shadow I see looks like something James Bond would use to battle Goldfinger. The deputy looks a bit perplexed – and I blurt out “Honey, did you grab 007’s purse by mistake?”
My wife had a metal business card case, a cell phone and a spare cell battery that, when combined with a metal flashlight, happened to fall in her purse in the shape of a firearm – (one that I wouldn’t mind reviewing for TTAG).
Our return trip to the Sheriff’s office was pleasant and quick enough. The same woman who has always been sweet and helpful was there again, and the deputy in charge of CCWs thought our story of the metal detector was both funny and prescient – a few months earlier inattention had allowed a firearm into the building.
“So what” was my thought, but I’m a believer in the “shoot back” theory of controlling gun violence. While we waited, I made the acquaintance of a former cop who was renewing his permit. In the course of our conversation, he expressed concern that so little training was needed to get a permit, and none at all for a renewal. Even though he believed that gun violence was on the decline thanks to concealed carry, he still held to the common police attitude toward “untrained civilians”. I invited him shooting, so hopefully over time I can disabuse his contempt of civilian.
The Second Amendment is my permit, or more accurately, my right to keep and bear arms is part and parcel of being a free citizen before God. While the requirement for a permit offends my inner libertarian, so far the process has been relatively painless, and the trend – at least in Missouri – is moving in the right direction. Constitutional carry may be closer than we think here in the Show-Me State.