Saline County accepting permits under gun law

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- With legislation that attempts to fix the problem with the state's concealed-gun law still on hold, another county, one in central Missouri, is preparing to accept permit applications.

Saline County Sheriff Wally George planned to begin taking concealed-carry permit applications today. George said he had held off on accepting permit applications in hopes questions about the law would be resolved.

But with no resolution forthcoming, he's moving ahead with accepting applications.

"Many Saline County citizens want that permit. I've waited as long as I can wait," George said Tuesday.

The Missouri Supreme Court in February upheld the general legality of the concealed-guns statute but said the funding mechanism potentially imposed new duties on sheriffs without meeting all the costs -- making it an unconstitutional, unfunded mandate.

A Senate committee has endorsed a bill attempting to fix the funding flaw, but the full Senate has yet to consider the legislation. A House committee planned to discuss its version of a legislative answer Tuesday evening.

Complicating matters further, Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, has said that, even if a bill wins final legislative approval, he plans to veto it, and House leaders have questioned whether they would have the votes to override a veto.

The Supreme Court ruling has led to mixed results, with some sheriffs, such as George, taking applications but others waiting because of the funding concerns.

The law requires sheriffs to charge an application fee of up to $100, but the court ruled the law limits the fee to being spent only on law enforcement equipment and training -- not personnel costs or the $38 fingerprint background check due to the state Highway Patrol.

To get around the issue, George, like some other sheriffs, planned to require applicants to write a $38 check or money order directly to the Missouri State Highway Patrol for the required background check.

However, George didn't plan to charge anything for his office's costs to process the applications. He said he would charge a fee once the legislature clears up how to do so, but acknowledged that his plan to cover the costs within the sheriff's office also could mean a legal challenge.

Concealed-gun opponents already have filed a lawsuit in Moniteau County, arguing that by processing and issuing permits there, the sheriff incurred new costs that had to be covered by taxpayer funds. Lawyers involved in that case did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: