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Concealed carry bill sent to governor's desk

May 05, 2003
By: Heather J. Carlson
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 349

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Legislature has sent the governor a second bill he has vowed to veto -- packed pistols.

The House granted final approval Monday to legislation that would allow Missourians to carry concealed weapons.

This legislation, along with the 24-hour abortion waiting period bill, now await Gov. Bob Holden's signature or veto. Holden has threatened to veto concealed carry in the past, but refused to comment Monday on whether he would exercise his veto powers.

Although the measure passed overwhelmingly in the House, supporters have yet to show that they have enough votes in the Senate to override a governor's veto.

Under the legislation, citizens age 23 and older could apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon. To qualify for the license, individuals must undergo a background check and complete firearms safety training.

State law currently allows citizens to carry weapons as long as they are in plain view.

Thirty-five other states currently have concealed carry laws on the books.

Supporters of the legislation say the bill enables Missourians to fully exercise their right to bear arms as stated in the U.S. Constitution.

"All we want to do here is allow the law-abiding citizens ... the right to protect himself, herself or their family from the criminal element," said Rep. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring.

But opponents of the bill say it will lead to more gun violence.

"More people are going to die as innocent victims of this legislation," said Rep. Tom Villa, D-St. Louis City. "If people are carrying guns, more than likely people are going to get shot."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Larry Crawford, R-Centertown, disputed this claim, noting that citizens already tote weapons in plain view. He added that he purchased a weapon at age 21 and "I have not committed a crime, nor have any of my friends who have done the same."

But Rep. Barbara Fraser, D-St. Louis County, noted that four years ago Missouri voters rejected a similar concealed carry proposal. As such, she said the bill "is against the decision of the people of Missouri."

Columbia's Democratic Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson also voiced opposition to the legislation.

"This bill puts people at risk," she said. "My greatest concern is that with more small weapons we will see more accidental injuries, particularly to children."