Examining Missouri’s Gun Laws in the Aftermath of the Kansas City Chiefs Shooting

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – The recent shooting incident at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade has once again brought Missouri’s gun laws into the spotlight. With minimal regulations surrounding the sale, ownership, and carrying of firearms in the state, Missouri’s gun laws are likely to face scrutiny. While state law prohibits local officials from overriding its gun laws, cities such as Kansas City and St. Louis have implemented ordinances requiring permits for open carry. However, other cities like Columbia and Springfield do not have such requirements.

In 2021, Missouri lawmakers passed the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” aimed at preventing the enforcement of federal gun laws in the state. Sponsored by now U.S. Rep. Eric Burlison, the act imposes a $50,000 fine on police officers who attempt to enforce federal gun laws. This law is currently being challenged in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in October.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Missouri ranked ninth in the nation for its firearm death rate in 2021. Although the state now ranks lower on the list, it is not due to an improvement in its death rate. Rather, it is because the gun death rate in other states has substantially increased.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave Missouri an overall failing grade in its annual report, ranking it 48th in the nation for the strength of its gun laws. The report highlights that over 1,400 people died from gun violence in Missouri in 2023.

A recent poll conducted by Saint Louis University and YouGov revealed that a majority of Missouri voters support requiring criminal background checks for all gun buyers, including at gun shows and private sales. Additionally, the survey showed support for implementing mental health background checks, raising the age limit to buy a gun, and imposing a 72-hour waiting period for firearm purchases. The majority of respondents also favored the implementation of red flag laws, which allow for the temporary removal of guns from individuals deemed dangerous.

Missouri does not require a permit or background check for the purchase or ownership of firearms, but federal law mandates background checks for purchases made through federally-licensed dealers. However, person-to-person sales between private individuals, including at gun shows, do not require a background check. It’s important to note that private sellers may face prosecution if they knowingly sell firearms to individuals prohibited from owning them.

Certain individuals are federally disqualified from owning firearms, including those convicted of crimes punishable by more than one year in prison, individuals addicted to controlled substances, and those adjudicated as mentally defective or committed to a mental institution. Missouri law also prohibits the sale of firearms to minors under 18 without parental consent, as well as to intoxicated individuals.

Missouri allows for the open carry of firearms in most places, as long as it is not done in an aggressive or threatening manner. However, there are restrictions on carrying firearms in various locations such as police stations, schools, places of worship, and state or federal buildings. Private establishments also have the right to prohibit firearms on their premises, provided they display signs indicating their policies.

Concealed carry is allowed in Missouri for individuals at least 19 years old, with no permit required. However, permits are necessary in certain municipalities such as Kansas City or St. Louis. Missouri permits are recognized by neighboring states, except for Illinois.

Missouri does not have specific regulations for firearm retailers, but federal law requires a Federal Firearms License for those involved in firearm dealing, manufacturing, or importing. Private sellers are exempt from this requirement but may face prosecution if they knowingly sell firearms to prohibited individuals.

Certain types of firearms and accessories are illegal under federal and state law, including machine guns, firearm silencers, short-barreled rifles or shotguns, and gas guns. However, Missouri does not have laws regulating assault weapons, large capacity ammunition magazines, .50-caliber firearms, or ghost guns, which are untraceable firearms constructed from individually purchased parts.