- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2016

Missouri’s Republican-led legislature has significantly expanded gun rights in the state, establishing a public “stand your ground” right and allowing gun owners to carry concealed firearms without a permit.

Lawmakers overrode Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the sweeping gun rights law late Wednesday.

The legislation does away with training and permit requirements for concealed carry in Missouri and expands provisions that allow individuals to stand and fight back against perceived threats.

Gun owners previously were required to take an eight-hour course on gun safety and marksmanship and pass a background check in order to obtain a concealed carry permit. The new provision, which will take effect in January, does away with those requirements.

The move was cheered by Second Amendment advocates.

The law “will allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals,” Sen. Brian Munzlinger, a Republican from Lewis County who sponsored the bill, told The Kansas City Star.

National Rifle Association officials said the legislators’ action made Wednesday “a great day for freedom in Missouri.”

“The legislature stood strong for the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens by overriding Governor Nixon’s misguided veto,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “Despite the best efforts of Michael Bloomberg and out-of-state gun control groups to defeat the override vote, their agenda was rejected.”

But Democrats contend the changes will endanger citizens.

“You are creating the perfect storm,” said state Rep. Kim Gardner, St. Louis Democrat, according to The Joplin Globe. “We are basically taking away training … and at the same time lowering the standard for individuals to use deadly force.”

Mr. Nixon had vetoed the legislation, saying that the state’s concealed carry permitting system has worked perfectly well and that doing away with it will create public safety risks.

The bill “flouts this system, allowing individuals with no training, no proven handgun capability, and no background check to carry concealed,” Mr. Nixon wrote in a letter explaining his action.

He noted that, under the new law, individuals previously banned from obtaining a concealed carry permit would all now be allowed to carry concealed firearms — including people who pleaded guilty to felonies but received suspended sentences, persons charged but not yet convicted of felonies and individuals who have been convicted of two or more DUIs in the past five years.

“I cannot support a system that would ignore a determination by the chief law enforcement officer of a county that an individual is a danger to the community and should not be authorized to carry a concealed firearm,” Mr. Nixon wrote. “Law enforcement officials have not called for this change, and with good reason.”

Among the provisions in the law that are set to take effect in 30 days is an expansion of the state’s “castle doctrine,” which will give not only property owners or renters but also invited guests the right to use deadly force against an intruder.

The law also expands “stand your ground” rights to public places. Current law states there is no duty for an individual to retreat from danger in their home or vehicle, but the new law expands that provision to include “any place such person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity has a right to be.”

Approval of the expansion makes Missouri the first state to adopt new stand your ground laws since 2011. Stand your ground laws became a divisive topic of in 2012, after Florida volunteer neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman fatally shot unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin during an altercation.

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