House approves concealed gun legislation

The Missouri House backed legislation Thursday that would allow state officials and their staff members to carry a concealed gun in the state Capitol if they have a permit.

It was part of broader gun legislation that also would lower the minimum age for people to get a conceal-carry permit, authorize the state attorney general to develop a website listing the municipalities and counties that do not allow the open carrying of guns and prohibit the sales tax rate on guns or ammunition from exceeding that for other sporting goods. The measure also creates a new crime for people who have a gun and possess enough drugs to be charged with a felony.

Rep. Jeannie Riddle, who sponsored the legislation, said the proposal would help people to protect themselves while punishing those whose who break the law.

“This bill deals with law-abiding citizens to protect their God-given, constitution-guaranteed rights,” said Riddle, R-Mokane.

Missouri began issuing conceal-carry permits in 2004. Currently, applicants for a permit must be at least 23 years old, live in the state, have no felony convictions and pass a firearms training course and background check. The permit also must be renewed. Under current law, state lawmakers and local government officials who have a conceal-carry permit can bring a concealed weapon to their meetings.

The House legislation would expand that to allow legislative employees and statewide elected officials and their staff members who have a conceal-carry permit to bring a concealed gun into the Capitol and to legislative committee hearings in the building. The minimum age to seek the permit also would be lowered by two years to 21 years old.

Nearly every state has a process that allows for the carrying of concealed weapons. Many offer concealed weapon permits to people who are at least 21 years old, but others allow them to be issued at age 18.

Rep. Jill Schupp said the Missouri legislation was appalling. She said the idea of more people being allowed to bring a gun into the Capitol did not make her feel safer.

“Guns kill — that is their purpose,” said Schupp, D-Creve Coeur. “I don’t want them on the House floor with me. I don’t want them in the hands of 21 year olds.”

The gun legislation was approved 124-33 and now moves to the state Senate.

The House passed two other bills dealing with guns on Thursday that now also will be considered by senators.

One would prohibit business owners from restricting guns in vehicles. And the other bill seeks to exempt any firearms and ammunition produced and kept in the state from federal regulations. Several states have considered similar proposals.

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