Missouri Considers Restoration of Second Amendment Rights

Missouri Gun Control Allexxandar-iStock-884171048
Missouri Considers Restoration of Second Amendment Rights, iStock-884171048

HB 1708 has been introduced in Missouri to restore Second Amendment rights. The bill does this by incrementally removing infringements on the carry of firearms while on public transportation, in churches, and for people between the ages of 18 and 19.

The bill has evolved over the past few years. Last year, it passed the House of Representatives but was killed in the Senate by not being brought to a vote. In 2022, the bill again passed the House 101 to 40. It was killed in the Senate by not being brought to a vote. In 2024, the bill is HB 1708.

HB 1708 makes several incremental changes.

  1. The bill adds people with a valid concealed carry permit to those allowed to carry weapons on public transportation, with the exception of Amtrak.
  2. The bill lowers the age requirement to obtain a concealed carry permit to eighteen from nineteen.
  3. The bill reforms the law to prevent the loss of Second Amendment rights by those who entered deferred adjudication programs.  In those programs, the defendant is required to plead guilty or enter a plea of nolo contendere. If the program is successfully completed, the case is dismissed and the defendant is never convicted. In Missouri law, if a person “plead guilty to or entered a plea of nolo contendere” they are banned from obtaining a concealed carry permit, even if they were never convicted. HB 1708 removes the “plead guilty to or entered a plea of nolo contendere ”  language from the law.
  4. The bill extends the exceptions for law enforcement officers, retired law enforcement officers, and United States military or National Guard personnel on active duty to retired judicial officers or current or former members of the general assembly who possess a valid concealed carry permit or endorsement.
  5. The bill removes the ban on concealed carry in churches from those who have concealed carry permits.

Proponents of the bill believe it makes people safer. Opponents do not believe it does.  From kcur.org:

The legislation would apply to public transportation, including buses and trains. It would not apply to Amtrak or any partnership involving Amtrak.

Schnelting said he believes his legislation makes public transportation safer.

“It helps to secure our ability and your constituents’ ability to defend themselves on the public transportation system, mind you that they pay for with tax dollars,” Schnelting said.

Democrats on the committee and multiple organizations centered around transportation disagreed with Schnelting’s assessment.

The reform bill, HB 1708, incrementally removes several infringements on Second Amendment rights to bear arms outside the home. These infringements are being challenged in court cases across the nation. The general ban on carry in churches, even for people with concealed carry permits, is unlikely to stand judicial scrutiny. There is no history of such bans before the mid 19th century. The discrimination against people who are between the ages of 18 and 21 is being challenged in several court cases.  There is no history of such bans until the late 1800s, and then it was extremely limited. There is no history of bans on carry in public transportation, until at least 1900. None of these infringements are likely to withstand the simple Second Amendment test set up by the Heller decision, solidified and made clear in the Bruen decision.

The arguments put forward by the opposition to HB 1708 are essentially the same: guns are bad. More guns are more bad. The arguments do not stand real-world tests. Police officers are already exempted from the law forbidding carry-on public transportation. People with concealed carry permits have been shown to be several times more law-abiding than police officers. If the reforms proposed in HB 1708 are not enacted by the legislature, the reforms are likely to be put in place through the judicial process.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean WeingartenDean Weingarten

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