Missouri House approves expansion of concealed carry laws

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Missouri lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation that repeals the state’s prohibition on lawful concealed carry on public transportation as well as expanding the protections for armed citizens in houses of worship, with the Missouri House giving its stamp of approval to HB 282 on Monday.


The House adopted the measure by wide margins and sent it on to the state Senate, but not before supporters and opponents had a chance to sound off on the proposal.

“The reality is, people are already carrying guns on public transit,” [sponsor Rep. Adam] Schnelting said Monday. “I stand by the Constitution. I stand by my constituents. And I stand by the would be victims and the victims who simply want to be able to defend themselves against perpetrators of violence and crime.”

The bill passed the House on a vote of 102-45 and now heads to the Senate. The vote came just days after 16-year-old Ralph Yarl was shot twice and critically wounded in Kansas City after going to the wrong house to pick up his siblings on April 13. The shooting sparked national outrage and a protest this week.

“We haven’t even spent time today acknowledging the gun violence that happened about 10 miles from my own house, which is that a child was gunned down for ringing a doorbell,” state Rep. Ashley Aune, a Kansas City Democrat, said on the floor Monday. “We fight so hard in this room for more guns in more places and we forget about the actual lives lost and I really encourage you all to consider that while you’re protecting the Second Amendment.”

This isn’t about protecting the Second Amendment. As Schnelting said, it’s about ensuring that people can protect themselves from violent criminals. We’ve noted before that mass transit isn’t exactly crime-free, even if systems like Metrolink in St. Louis are designated as “gun-free zones.” From bus stops to train cars, violent encounters are taking place on a regular basis, but law-abiding citizens are unable to defend themselves thanks to the current prohibition on concealed carry.


Not only does that prohibition prevent peaceable gun owners from protecting themselves on public transportation, for those reliant on those networks to get around the current law makes it impossible for them to carry during the course of their daily routine.

Hopefully that will soon change, though the state Senate will have to act quickly if HB 282 is going to become law this year. The state legislature is set to adjourn on May 12th, which doesn’t give the Senate a lot of time to hold committee hearings and a floor vote. It can definitely be done, but it’s going to have to be a priority for Senate leadership, and that may take some prodding on the part of Second Amendment advocates in the state.

As for the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in Kansas City that Aune brought up, it had nothing to do with concealed carry (or even the state’s Stand Your Ground law, despite the claims of many media outlets). The 84-year-old man who’s now been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action may try to raise a self-defense claim in his defense, but based on the reports in the press and information released by police, it doesn’t sound to me like the elements of self-defense were present and the charges are absolutely appropriate. You have to have a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury before you can act in self-defense under Missouri law, and a stranger ringing your doorbell or showing up at your doorstep simply isn’t reason enough to believe your life is in danger.


84-year-old Andrew Lester will have his day in court, but regardless of whether or not his actions were justified (and I don’t think they were) his case has absolutely nothing to do with the ability of Missouri residents to protect themselves in a “gun-free zone” that isn’t gun or crime-free at all. HB 282 would be a major improvement to state law that could very well prove to be of life-saving importance going forward… as long as the state Senate doesn’t sit on the bill until lawmakers leave Jefferson City for the year.


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