Sheriff's Guide to Understanding Proposition B Right-To-Carry Referendum.

by Greg Jeffery

Q: What is Proposition B?

A: On April 6, 1999, Missouri voters will be asked to approve Proposition B which would establish statutory guidelines authorizing sheriffs to issue permits to carry concealed firearms to Missouri residents who apply AND meet certain qualifications. These statutory requirements can be found in HB1891 as passed by the Missouri legislature in 1998. The section would become RSMo 571.093.

Q: Do any other states issue permits to carry concealed firearms to qualified adult citizens?

A: YES. There are 31 states that currently have "right-to-carry" concealed carry laws, accounting for over half of this nation's population. "Right-to-carry" means that any citizen that applies for a permit and meets the qualifications established by the state, must be issued the permit. Roughly 2.4 million citizens in these states have received permits, just under 2% of those eligible. In addition to these 31, there are twelve states that have discretionary "may issue" concealed carry laws that allow the issuing authorities the power to deny permits unless there is a "need." In total, there are 43 states that currently issue permits so qualified citizens can legally carry concealed firearms. Missouri is one of only 7 states with no such provision.

Q: The Missouri Police Chiefs Association (MPCA) has stated that the bill is full of loopholes; is this true?

A: NO. In order to qualify for a permit, the applicant MUST:

AND the Applicant MUST:

ONLY IF YOU CAN PASS ALL THESE CHECKS ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR A PERMIT

Q: How can the sheriff check the accuracy of this information?

A: Proposition B allows one of the most thorough background checks of the 31 states that issue permits to carry concealed firearms. The name, date of birth and social security number can be checked against several automated databases including Department of Revenue (DOR), Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). ONLY IF no disqualifying information is found during these database searches would the fingerprints be sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol for forwarding to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for national criminal background check (Section 571.093.3). The FBI may charge the Highway Patrol $24 for processing the fingerprint check.

Q: Who pays for the cost for the fingerprint check?

A: The Missouri State Highway Patrol. According to the fiscal research performed prior to passage of HB1891, it was confirmed that "local law enforcement agencies are not charged fee for running criminal background checks."

Q: How much can my department charge for a permit?

A: Proposition B allows the sheriff to charge a fee not to exceed $80 for the initial issuance of the permit and $35 for renewal. Costs for your department's background check should be no different than your current background check for a permit to purchase a concealable firearm, for which you currently are allowed to charge no more than $10.

Q: Who controls the revenue raised by Concealed Weapons Permits?

A: The sheriff. Proposition B establishes a fund into which the permit fees will be deposited. The fund is used at the discretion of the sheriff. The fiscal analysis done by the state predicted that this provision will generate money for the sheriff's department.

Q: Does the sheriff have to perform the fingerprint check on renewal?

A: He may. The sheriff must take another set of prints upon renewal, but if he can use other means to satisfy that the prints on file identify the renewal applicant, he does not have to process the prints through the FBI again. If the sheriff is not convinced of the identity of the person wishing to renew, he may resubmit new prints to the Missouri Highway Patrol to be forwarded to the FBI, if he so desires.

Q: Does Proposition B allow the sheriff to check mental health records?

A: Yes. Not all records are available because, in Missouri, private mental health records are considered privileged information. However, if the sheriff so desires, he can check for any criminal court and civil court records. The mental health checks under Prop B would be no different than the current mental health background checks allowed by the state for school bus drivers, teachers or day-care workers.

Q: Will the sheriff be required to issue permits to applicants with juvenile violent crime records, such as gang members and drug dealers?

A: No. Proposition B allows sheriffs to open all juvenile records. Any disqualifying information found is cause for the sheriff not to issue the permit (RSMo 571.093.4). The sheriff can inquire with other sheriffs to determine if any disqualifying information is available about an applicant.

Q: Are there any other safeguards in Proposition B?

A: Yes. Anyone over 21, including the sheriff of another jurisdiction, can file an affidavit in small claims court if they have information that an individual who applied for, or received, a permit to carry a concealed firearm does not meet the requirements. These accusations can include: stalking, domestic violence, unlawful use of a weapon, as well as other activity that would disqualify an applicant or permit holder. If the court agrees, this is cause not to issue a permit or to revoke an issued permit (Section 571.093.5).

Q: Will Proposition B endanger my deputies during routine traffic stops?

A: NO. In the 31 states with right-to carry laws in effect, with millions of qualified adults licensed to carry concealed firearms there has only been one instance of a police officer being shot by a permit holder. In fact, there have been several documented cases where police officers lives have been saved by citizens licensed to carry concealed firearms. Remember, we are talking about the good guys; the bad guys don't ask your permission to carry a gun.

Also, Permit holders will be identified in the MULES system. On any routine pull-over, the general DOR/MULES check can be used to identify if the car is registered to a permit holder. A further search for wants and warrants on the driver can also identify the driver as a permit holder: referred to in most jurisdictions, using 10 codes, as the 10-28, 10-29 check (RSMo 571.093.8).

Q: How else will Proposition B benefit law enforcement officers?

A: Proposition B creates a statutory provision that allows law enforcement officers carry concealed weapons anywhere in the state, whether or not on duty (Section 571.030.2(1). The creation of the permit system also makes it possible for qualified spouses and relatives to apply for and receive permits to legally carry concealed firearms to protect themselves.

Q: How do the requirements established by Proposition B compare to the other 31 states that issue permits to carry concealed weapons to qualified adults?

A: A more stringent background check: The fingerprint check, FBI background check, statewide background check, the juvenile records check, and the provision allowing affidavits, all add up to one the most thorough background investigations of the 31 states with right-to-carry laws. (Section 571.093.1).

Q: Will "just about anyone" be able to carry a concealed firearm "just about anywhere" if Proposition B is approved?

A: NO. Only people who apply for permits and pass ALL the background requirements. The experiences of the 31 states that have right-to-carry laws indicates that less than 3 percent of the population will apply for permits. Proposition B lists places that are off-limits even to law-abiding citizens that have received permits to carry concealed firearms (Section 571.093.17). A gun in every pocket is a fallacy conjured up by opponents to frighten the public.

Q: What's to stop a permit holder from drinking while carrying?

A: Missouri law currently prohibits posession of any firearm while intoxicated. Prop. B explicitly states that permit holders are not exempted from that law. It is true that Prop. B does not require permit holders to remove their firearm before entering an establishment that serves alcohol. Of the 43 states that have permits, some prohibit carry in such establishments, many do not. Those that allow carry into such establishments have not experienced any problems associated with the law. It bears repeating, and the statistics bear out, that permit holders are universally the most law abiding and responsible citizens in the community.

Q: What kind of safety training will be required for a permit to carry?

A: Under Proposition B, training courses would have to be a minimum of 12 hours and be approved by the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Any department with an approved course could conduct training. Keep in mind that many of the 31 states that have right-to-carry laws have no training requirements at all and are not experiencing troubles.

Q: Can the sheriff be held liable for issuing a permit to someone who then commits a crime?

A: No. "No sheriff shall be liable for the actions of a permit holder solely because the sheriff issued a permit to such individual." (Section 571.093.12)

Q: Will permit holders pose a threat to our homes, workplaces, schools and children?

A: NO. Several million Americans currently possess permits to carry concealed firearms in the 31 states that allow qualified citizens to receive carry permits. The experiences of these states demonstrate that citizens who qualify for and receive permits to carry are responsible, law-abiding adults. Their experiences also demonstrate that right-to-carry laws result in a significant decrease in violent crime and an increase in public safety with no increase in accidents. That is why not one of these states is seeking to repeal their right to carry laws. Concealed carry saves lives.

"Other states that have passed right-to-carry have not experienced the carnage that opponents predict, in fact, serious crime rates have decreased in states that have right-to-carry laws." (St. Louis Police Officers Association Press Release)

Q: Do any police agencies support this measure?

A: Yes and no. While some chiefs oppose it, the St. Louis Police Officers Association, representing rank and file officers, publicly supports passage of Proposition B and has endorsed right-to-carry since 1996. The Missouri Deputy Sheriffs Association also endorses Proposition B.

"The Executive Board of the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA), representing over 1300 commissioned officers employed by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, has voted to support the passage of the April 6, 1999 Right-to-Carry Referendum." (SLPOA Press Release)

Q: Why should my department support passage of Proposition B?

A: Because the honest citizens of Missouri deserve it. The fears and concerns raised over what "may" or "might" happen if Missouri passes Proposition B can be dispelled quickly if the experience of the 31 states that have right to carry laws are taken into account. The feared scenarios have not materialized. There has been no wild west. On the contrary, the citizens of these states have demonstrated that they can be trusted to responsibly carry firearms for their personal protection. Missourians can be trusted too. They deserve our trust.

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