Weapons bill fix goes to governor

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Senate on Tuesday sent legislation to the governor that would fix a constitutional flaw in Missouri's concealed weapons law.

The bill would specify that local sheriffs can use the $100 fee they may charge applicants for conceal-carry permits to cover their expenses for processing the permits. As currently written, the 2-year-old statute earmarks the fee proceeds for equipment and training.

In a challenge to the law brought by concealed weapons opponents, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in February 2004 that because the funding mechanism fails to reimburse sheriffs for their expenses in carrying out the law, it is an unconstitutional unfunded mandate.

The court, however, didn't prohibit sheriffs from voluntarily implementing the law without funding. To date, every sheriff in the state save those in St. Louis County and St. Louis city are issuing permits to qualified applicants.

Gov. Matt Blunt intends to sign the fix into law. Once he does so, the St. Louis County and city sheriffs will be required to start processing permits.

The Senate gave final passage to the bill on a 29-3 vote following a brief debate. While the original measure authorizing concealed weapons sparked fierce opposition, state Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said the merits of the issue already have been settled.

"This has nothing to do with whether you are for or against conceal-carry," said Crowell, the measure's Senate sponsor. "This is a good government bill."

The House of Representatives approved the bill 142-7 in March. The bill contains an emergency clause, meaning it will take effect as soon as the governor signs it.

The bill is HB 365.


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