lunt OKs ban on concealed guns in state buildings

Saturday, October 18, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- An emergency rule banning concealed guns in state government buildings meets legal requirements and will take effect Sunday, Secretary of State Matt Blunt's office said Friday.

Gov. Bob Holden proposed the emergency rule after the legislature overrode his veto of a new law allowing qualified Missourians to carry concealed firearms.

Blunt is responsible as secretary of state for publishing administrative rules, and can block rules from taking effect if he determines they do not comply with the law.

Spence Jackson, Blunt's spokesman, said Friday that a lawyer for the secretary of state's office had reviewed the emergency rule and was satisfied that it met the requirements of state law.

The concealed gun statute itself was prevented from taking effect as scheduled Oct. 11 when a circuit judge in St. Louis issued a preliminary injunction in response to a lawsuit.

Opponents of the law filed suit citing several constitutional issues. Among them is an 1875 provision of the Missouri Constitution that guarantees the right to bear arms but adds, "but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons."

A hearing is scheduled Oct. 23 in St. Louis Circuit Court on whether to make the injunction permanent.

Missouri's regulations historically have prohibited any guns or weapons in state buildings unless authorized by law.

The new law specifically bans concealed guns from courthouses, prisons and jails, and any meetings of governing bodies, such as the legislature or city councils.

It also states that the legislature, Supreme Court, counties and cities may prohibit permit holders from bringing concealed guns into buildings they own, lease or control. Neither the governor nor the executive branch of state government is included in that list, and the law says the provision "shall not apply to any other unit of government."

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