November 2003

Show Me State Carry Law Passes

In Missouri, the legislature has voted to override Gov. Bob Holdenís veto of state legislation that would allow concealed carry in the Show Me State.

In mid-September, the Republican-controlled Missouri House and Senate representatives voted on consecutive days to override Holdenís veto, with one vote coming from State Senator Jon Dolan, who returned from active duty with the U.S. Army in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in time to help his GOP colleagues. The legislature also has joined 30 other states in enacting protection from lawsuits for companies whose products are misused without their knowledge in criminal acts, another law the Governor vetoed earlier.

Despite panicked claims that innocent people will be killed and there will be shootouts in the streets, here is a prediction: A year after enactment, Missouriís newspapers will report that all the horror stories about letting citizens carry concealed handguns were wrong.

Missouriís law will be the most restrictive right-to-carry law in the nation, but any fair observer only has to look at the other 32 states with right-to-carry laws to see how well such legislation has worked, and how the sky hasnít come falling down.

For instance, Michigan, which adopted a right-to-carry law in 2001, hasnít seen a wave of new gun violence among permitholders, according to Metro Detroit law enforcement officials.

Also, in the 15 years after Floridaís concealed-carry law took effect in October 1987, about 800,000 licenses were issued. Only 143 of these (two-hundredths of 1 percent) were revoked because of firearms-related violations. Even off-duty police officers in Florida were convicted of violent crimes at a higher rate than permit-holders.

The experience in Texas has been similar. From 1996 through 1999, the first four years that Texasí concealed-handgun law was in effect, 215,000 people were licensed. Permit holders turned out to be law-abiding, with licensees convicted of a crime only 6 percent as often as other adult Texans.

Gov. Holden claimed that right-to-carry laws would actually make police officersí jobs more dangerous by making it more likely that they would be shot. Yet research has shown that the laws make police safer. Professor David Mustard at the University of Georgia found that right-to-carry laws reduced the rate that officers were killed by about 2 percent per year for each year that the laws were in effect.

When he vetoed the right-to-carry bill, Holden also claimed that right-to-carry laws would increase accidental shootings, but there is not one academic study that finds that to be true, according to researcher John Lott, Jr.

A year after the right-to-carry law is enacted, Missourians will wonder what all the fuss was about. Those declaring that Missouriansí safety is endangered will lose credibility once people see that it is criminals and not law-abiding citizens who have the most to fear from Missouriansí being able to defend themselves.


-Todd Woodard