St. Louis County Chief Backs Open Carry Restrictions

(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

St. Louis has been trying to find a way around Missouri’s preemption law for a while. As with most preemption laws, there are exceptions that local governments can use to deal with things like discharging a firearm, but there aren’t a lot.


Yet it’s not just the city that seems to be interested in restricting guns. The police chief in St. Louis County also seems to favor some restrictions.

Oh, not on everything, mind you. Just open carry for minors.

LAYTON — The St. Louis County police chief said he supports a plan to crack down on the open-carry of firearms in unincorporated county territory, which could pass the County Council as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

Council Chair Shalonda Webb, a Democrat from unincorporated North County, proposed a plan in September that would require a concealed carry license to openly carry a gun.

The plan aims to stop teenagers from openly carrying weapons — since minors can’t get a concealed carry license.

And it would strengthen police officers’ ability to address unlawful open carry, said police Chief Kenneth Gregory at a special council meeting Tuesday morning.

“There’s not a whole lot we can do with young kids carrying weapons,” Gregory said.

Seeing young people openly carry guns has stricken fear into North County communities, Webb said.

“Members of our community are intimidated,” Webb said. “They’re afraid to sit on their porches.”

Councilman Mark Harder, a Republican from Ballwin, opposes the plan. St. Louis County already has limitations on gun possession for children younger than 16 and on firing a weapon in public, according to the county’s firearm code. And it’s already illegal to flourish a gun or wield it threateningly.

“These laws are already on the books,” Harder said.


There are questions, though, and this report doesn’t seem to answer them.

For example, what kind of guns and how are the kids “openly carrying” them?

I ask because this is the unincorporated parts of St. Louis County. As someone who, like many of you, has lived in unincorporated parts of a county, it wasn’t overly unusual to see someone openly carrying a gun in order to do some hunting on private property just down the way or to use someone’s backyard range.

People under 16 aren’t exactly driving, so tossing it in the car isn’t an option.

Now, should a 13-year-old be hunting or target shooting by himself? Possibly not, but we don’t know that’s what would be happening, either. Going down the road to shoot with Joe and his daddy isn’t exactly the same thing as irresponsible gangbangers rolling down the neighborhood shooting everything in sight.

Of course, I don’t know how rural the unincorporated parts of St. Louis County actually are. It’s possible that these areas are built up enough that this just isn’t happening. Yet since there’s hunting, I’m going to guess that’s not entirely the case.

Those two points, though, brings me to another question.

See, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of criminal activity associated with these kids carrying guns openly. All that’s said is that people are intimidated by the sight of guns, particularly in the hands of young people. Granted, I’m curious to know just how young these people are and how they know they’re minors, but even if they’re right, it’s still about seeing guns and being scared.


On that note, people in St. Louis County need to get over it.

There was a time when kids carried guns to school because the distance was so great and the risks so high. We didn’t have issues then. We only have issues now because people can’t imagine any legitimate reason someone might be armed.

Sure, this isn’t the same world those other kids lived in, but at some point, we’ve got to have enough sense to actually ask why they have guns and accept that the answer may not be nefarious.

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