American citizen have the right to bear arms. This refers to the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of their home, their person, and their property. This phrase is contained within the text of the United States Bill of Rights and within the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution where the text reads that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Owning firearms used to be a part of everyday American life, however, current United States gun laws are defined by a number of state and federal statutes and federal gun laws are enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Missouri laws do not require a citizen you to have a permit to purchase a rifle or a handgun and there are no registration requirements for firearms. However, you are required to obtain a concealed weapons permit in order to carry a concealed weapon but open carry is permitted for handguns for anyone over the age of 18. However, local jurisdictions can regulate open carry and discharge of firearms. Guns and weapons charges are not to be taken lightly. A conviction on any of these charges can limit your freedom and if it is combined with other crimes these charges can potentially aggravate and enhance the penalties associated with your case.
Under Missouri Revised Statutes, if you have been convicted of a felony, there are no circumstances under which you should be in possession of a firearm. This often happens with convictions for violent offenses. Someone found to have a weapon on your person can be charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm a sentence that could potentially lead to significant jail time. If a firearm is possessed during the commission of another offense, it could increase the severity of the charges and any potential punishment. Additionally, in Missouri a person is guilty of committing a crime if he or she knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs or sells the following:
- An explosive weapon;
- Either an explosive, or an incendiary, or a poison substance or material with the intention of manufacturing or selling an explosive weapon;
- A gas gun;
- Any bullet or projectile that explodes or detonates on impact due to an independent explosive charge;
- The below items are a violation of federal law:
- A machine gun;
- Any short-barreled rifle or shotgun;
- A silencer for a firearm; or
- A switchblade knife.
Most of the crimes listed above are considered a Class C felony offense. The penalties for Class C felony offenses involve prison term not more than 7 years and a maximum fine of $5,000. In Missouri open carry of firearms for individuals aged 18 and older is allowed under state law. However, cities, municipalities, and city ordinances may have their own laws restricting this therefore, it's a good idea to check with local laws and ordinances before openly carrying a weapon. The weapons charges an individual may face can include carrying concealed weapons without the proper licenses, as well as people found to have weapons in their cars. If the weapon is in your car, it has to be in a locked case and not be in the immediate passenger area. Some people mistakenly keep a gun in the glove box only to be charged with a weapons offense. The possible charges you may face are:
- Concealed weapons charges
- Criminal activity while carrying a weapon
- Possession of stolen or illegally obtained weapons
- Unlawful discharge of a firearm or weapon
- Possession of a firearm or weapon by a convicted felon
To many people the gun laws in Missouri may seem complex, it's not too difficult to break the law when you aren’t aware that you are even committing a crime in the first place. Some weapons offenses are classified as felony offenses and can potentially result in prison time for up to 7 years. It is of vital importance that you act to protect your legal rights If you've been charged with such crimes. You don't want your freedom threatened by a weapons violation.
There is a law called “Stand Your Ground” in Missouri which basically states that as long as someone is in a location they are authorized to be in, whether it’s a home or a public place, they have the right to defend themselves with a firearm without retreating first as long as they reasonably feel their life is being threatened with deadly force. There used to be a duty to retreat. According to a criminal defense attorney “the new provision is one of the few laws in Missouri that's actually very good for the citizens. Not only does it provide the accused with those particular rights but it places the burden on the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not act in lawful self-defense," he said.
In the past Missouri was one of 20 states that had adopted a duty to retreat law which required a defendant to prove that they could have retreated to a place of safety first before using armed force. This law had exceptions and those were: dwellings, residences, vehicles or one’s private property. Now, Missouri law states that a person has no duty to retreat from any place they have a lawful right to be.
There are 17 places in the state of Missouri where you cannot carry a gun. If you are caught carrying a gun on any of these places, you will be asked to leave. However, if you refuse to do so, you will be cited with an infraction and a fine of $100 if you have a permit. If you don’t have a permit you will be arrested and charged with a class B misdemeanor weapons offense which may include a $500 fine or six months in jail. The 17 places are:
- Police, sheriff, and highway patrol offices
- Within 20 feet of a polling place on election day
- Into an adult or juvenile detention or correctional facility
- Into any court house or building used by a court
- Any government meeting including the state legislature
- Government owned buildings, except for public housing
- Airports with TWA offices
- Any place prohibited under federal law, like post offices
- Into any school or college
- Into any childcare facility
- Into a casino
- Into a gated amusement park
- Any church
- Into any private property is openly off-limits to concealed firearms
- Any sports arena or stadium seating more than 5000 people
- Into any hospital accessible to the public
If you are charged with a weapons offense in the state of Missouri, you should contact an experienced gun crimes attorney who can advise you of your rights and work diligently to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
An experienced Okaloosa County Juvenile crimes Lawyer to guide you through the process in an appropriate manner.