Reader Bryce Booher writes:
‘Constitutional carry’ is clearly on the rise. States all across the country are moving to allow their citizens the ability to legally carry concealed firearms without state-required safety courses. In some states, the requirements for a cary permit can be overly burdensome by being too long, too expensive, or too restrictive or all three. But along with the spread of constitutional carry comes a new definition of what constitutional carry actually means.
Because these requirements vary from state to state, I can only speak to what I know about my own state. For the last five years, I’ve been a firearms instructor in the state of Missouri, teaching concealed carry safety courses.
On January 1st, 2017, Missouri’s constitutional carry law went into effect. There were three major areas of change the new law brings (and a lot of smaller changes I won’t get into here).
1) ‘Stand Your Ground’ law: Before 1/1/17, no one had a duty to retreat from any dwelling, residence, vehicle, or private property owned or leased by so long as they were there lawfully. Under the new law, you do not have a duty to retreat from any place you are occupying lawfully.
2) Castle Doctrine: Before 1/1/17, the castle doctrine didn’t apply to house guests, nannies, or anyone else not actually living in the home. Under the new law, the castle doctrine applies to anyone lawfully in your home for any lawful purpose.
The third major change in the statutes — and the most misunderstood — was the legal ability to carry a concealed firearm without acquiring a concealed carry weapons permit (or CCW permit). Many assumed (incorrectly) that this meant you could carry a concealed firearm anywhere in the state without consequence. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Putting it as simple as possible, the new law made it legal to carry concealed where it was already legal to carry openly. There are two problems with this.
1) There are provisions in Missouri’s law that allow cities to pass local ordinances banning the open carrying of firearms (Branson is one of those cities). The way around those ordinances was to get a CCW permit. The new constitutional carry law did not address those ordinances, which means if you do not have a CCW permit, you are not legally allowed to carry a firearm open or concealed in those cities.
2) There are also 17 places listed specifically in the statutes in which you are not allowed to carry a concealed firearm (Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 571.107). If you DO NOT have a permit, and choose to carry concealed in any of these places, you can be arrested for a Class B misdemeanor. If you have a CCW permit and carry in those places, management must ask you to leave (or leave your firearm in the car, etc), BEFORE calling law enforcement. If they chose to call law enforcement without first asking you to leave, law enforcement would have to ask you to leave before any citation can be given. If you refuse to leave, you can be given citations and could face suspensions or revocations of your permit, etc (so don’t be THAT guy).
As you can see, Missouri’s new constitutional carry law is far from perfect. Are these provisions steps in the right direction for gun owners? Probably, so long as the language doesn’t become misconstrued and used against good people trying to do the right thing. However, there are still plenty of reasons to get a CCW permit (aside from those listed above).
As each state enacts its own version of constitutional carry, it’s important that we understand what your state’s law actually says. Don’t take the media’s word for it (or gun store jibber-jabber, for that matter). Do your own research and educate yourself.
Bryce Booher runs Defensive Resources LLC and is a NRA certified firearms instructor.