Friday, August 24, 2007

Victory in Missouri!

Missourians won’t need sheriff’s permit to buy concealable gun

The Kansas City Star

Residents of Missouri soon will no longer need a sheriff’s permit to buy a concealable gun, although a permit still will be required to carry one.

Missouri lawmakers changed the gun law earlier this year with little of the controversy that often goes with gun legislation. The change will be effective Tuesday.

“It’s something we’ve advocated for some time,” said Kevin Jamison, a Gladstone lawyer who is president of the Missouri Sport Shooting Association, the National Rifle Association affiliate in the state. “This makes it easier for people to buy firearms. They don’t have to get permission first.”

The gun-permit law for purchases dates to 1921, Jamison said. The sheriff has up to seven days to review a permit application and conduct a criminal background check.

So far this year, Jackson County has issued 4,150 permits to acquire a handgun, said Sgt. Judy Farnsworth of the sheriff’s office. The permits generated about $60,000 in fees for the general fund, she said.

Under federal law, gun dealers already do background checks on people who buy handguns from them, so the sheriff’s review is redundant, Jamison said. In addition, going to the sheriff’s office to apply for a permit and then to pick it up is a nuisance, he said.

The sale or transfer of firearms between individuals also will no longer require a criminal background check.

“There will not be any safeguards on that, individual to individual,” Farnsworth said. “It’s always a concern, but there’s not a lot we can do about it.”

Jamison said most sales of handguns are by licensed dealers, so background checks still will have to be done. Though illegal, the transfer of guns without a permit among individuals is already common, he said.

Jamison said gun-rights groups will advise individuals to have a dealer do a computer background check on gun buyers they do not know. The dealers will charge a small fee but have access to criminal records not available to individuals, Jamison said.

Jamison said there was no testimony against the bill this year when the change was made part of a larger, 20-page firearms and self-defense bill.

As word of the new law got out, however, some people mistakenly believed that permits would no longer be needed to carry a weapon, said Deputy Ronda Montgomery, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

In a news release this week, Montgomery said that “it is important to note this does not affect the concealed permit law.”

A 2003 Missouri law allowed carrying of concealed weapons, with permission of the sheriff and after training, background checks and other restrictions. All of those rules still apply, Jamison said.

“Buying a handgun does not make you qualified to carry it,” he said.