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When Missouri voters turned down Proposition B last April, there was a clear divide over the issue of concealed weapons. Voters in rural areas generally favored the proposal that would have allowed individuals over 21 years old to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The plan was opposed in the state's two urban areas.

In addition to requiring a permit and training, Proposition B also recognized other state laws that ban weapons in such commonsense areas as schools and churches.

The National Rifle Association strongly supported Proposition B as a well-conceived plan to let responsible Missourians carry concealed weapons to defend themselves. For all of the negative publicity the plan received, mainly in Kansas City and St. Louis, it was a well-thought-out proposal that deserved to win statewide approval.

There are likely to be renewed efforts to find a way to allow Missourians to carry concealed weapons sometime in the future. But a plan under way this year could set back the concealed-weapons movement in the state. It's hard to tell whether this new plan seriously wants to give citizens the right to be armed or whether it intends to persuade voters against even a responsible plan.

Shortly after last year's election, a group calling itself the Vermont Project started laying the groundwork for another petition drive to put the concealed-weapons issue on the ballot in Missouri.

The group takes its name from the state of Vermont, which has no firearms restrictions. Residents of that state are free to carry weapons wherever and whenever they want. Vermont has often been used as a model of what the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution intended all along.

But most Missourians, even those who favor concealed weapons, agree that there should be guidelines and restrictions. Not the Vermont Project supporters. They are currently circulating petitions to allow concealed weapons -- handguns, knives, whatever -- anywhere at any time without permits or training requirements.

In addition, the Vermont Project has a second petition to repeal existing state law that requires a permit before a concealable weapon can be sold or transferred.

Clearly, the backers of this year's petition drive and supporters of last year's Proposition B aren't the same folks. The Vermont Project petitions send the wrong message to all Missourians, which will make it difficult to bring another, more restrictive plan for concealed weapons to the voters.

The National Rifle Association is steering clear of the Vermont Project petitions. The rest of Missouri should too.