The right-to-carry revolution that we’ve seen across the country since the 1980s has not only led to the demise of “may issue” laws and half of the 50 states adopting permitless carry or Constitutional Carry laws that don’t require legal gun owners to obtain a license. The trend has moved in one direction only; no state has ever reversed course and repealed its “shall issue” or permitless carry laws after they’ve been enacted.
I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that trend will continue in the new year, though at least one Democrat is doing his best to try to roll back carry laws in the Constitutional Carry state of Missouri. State Senator Brian Williams has pre-filed SB 254 for the 2023 session, and while it doesn’t ban concealed carry outright as one media outlet inaccurately reported, it would axe the state’s permitless carry status and once again require anyone carrying a firearm to have a state-issued license.
“We have to acknowledge in the St. Louis region — and regions alike throughout our state — we’ve seen an increase in homicides, we’ve seen an increase in concerns around public safety,” Williams told KMOX. “And a lot of that stemmed from the legislature lifting the concealed carry permit law for folks here in Missouri to carry firearms.”
Many advocates of similar laws say they’re “common sense” regulations. However, lots of people push back on such laws, claiming they’re an infringement on Second Amendment rights. Williams disagrees with that claim.
“If you look at any profession, occupation, or anything that we do, we require some level of training. You cannot drive a vehicle without a driver’s license. You can’t go hunting in the state of Missouri without some type of license and a permit to be able to hunt,” he pointed out. “So these things are very, very practical approaches. And again, keeping people safe in our state should not be a partisan position.”
Unfortunately there’s been an increase in homicides in many U.S. cities, including those located far from any Constitutional Carry state. There’s also not much evidence that legal gun owners are responsible for the increase in homicides and shootings that have plagued St. Louis for far longer than Constitutional Carry has been the law in Missouri.
Williams’ argument about the state requiring a license for all kinds of activities is another stale canard routinely offered up by gun control supporters, but frankly it sounds to me more like a case for reducing the licensing requirements for various occupations than anything else. We’re talking about a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, and I’m not aware of any other right that requires licensing and pre-approval by the state before it can be exercised.
With a Republican supermajority in the legislature, I don’t see Williams’ bill faring well. In fact, I’ll be shocked if SB 254 even gets a hearing in committee. Missouri voters had the chance to elect an anti-gun Democrat as governor and senator this year, but they instead chose pro-2A candidates for statewide office while sending a strong pro-2A majority back to the statehouse as well. I doubt Republican lawmakers see that as a sign of discontent with Constitutional Carry. More importantly, why would they sign on to Williams’ bill when it would be a big step backwards for the right they’ve sworn to protect? Democrats will definitely try to make the repeal of Constitutional Carry a major issue in Missouri next session, but I don’t think they’re going to find much traction when they return to Jefferson City in January.