|NMU||MISSOURI||Freedom of Information|
New legislation hides conceal and carry records
- The Missouri legislature is closing public access to records showing who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
Oct. 7, 2003 — Despite a veto by Missouri Gov. Bob Holden, the state legislature barred public access to records showing who is licensed to carry a concealed gun.
The Sept. 11 override by the Republican-controlled legislature closed records of nearly 60,000 gun licensees, effective this Saturday, Oct. 11. In addition, the bill will allow Missouri citizens over the age of 21 to carry a concealed firearm after a background check and payment of an initial licensing fee of $100.
Holden, a Democrat, vetoed the bill in July, saying it violated the spirit of Missouri’s Sunshine Law.
“There is absolutely no defensible public policy that justifies keeping this information — which otherwise would be open pursuant to the state’s Sunshine Law — from the public and the press of this state,” Holden wrote in a letter to the legislature explaining his veto.
“Lists of this matter are always open unless there are good reasons given why they should be closed,” Jack Cardetti, spokesman for the governor, told News Media Update. “The governor feels that openness promotes a healthy democracy.”
According to Rep. Larry Crawford (R-Centertown), who sponsored the bill, eliminating public access to the records was necessary to protect conceal and carry permit holders “from being targeted by thieves, particularly in urban areas, that want firearms.”
It’s a rationale that carries some weight with gun rights activists.
Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America, said keeping the conceal and carry records open defeated the entire purpose of the permit.
“If a list has been published at the county courthouse,” said Pratt, “then he might as well wear his gun on his hip without anything over it.”
In response to the override, Holden announced Monday that he will use emergency administrative rules to prohibit concealed weapons in state-owned or operated buildings. The override includes a provision that would have allowed it, changing existing law.
© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press