Posted on August 3, 2015
Missouri has a comprehensive statute occupying and preempting “the entire field of legislation touching in any way firearms, components, ammunition and supplies to the complete exclusion of any order, ordinance or regulation by any political subdivision of this state.”1 The statute states that all existing or future orders, ordinances, or regulations in this field are “null and void except as provided in subsection 3 of this section.”2
These exceptions created by subsection 3 allow political subdivisions to:
- Regulate the “open carrying of firearms readily capable of lethal use” (However, in 2014, this statute was amended to exempt “any person with a valid concealed carry endorsement or permit” from any local ordinance prohibiting the open carrying of firearms);
- Regulate the discharge of firearms; and
- Enact ordinances conforming exactly to the provisions of sections 571.010 through 571.070 of the Missouri Revised Statutes (these statutes pertain to various aspects of state firearms regulation, including the unlawful transfer of weapons, armed criminal action, the possession, manufacture, transport and repair of certain weapons, and the carrying of concealed weapons).3
Missouri Revised Statutes § 21.750(2) reiterates the preemption of all local regulation concerning firearms, stating:
No county, city, town, village, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state shall adopt any order, ordinance or regulation concerning in any way the sale, purchase, purchase delay, transfer, ownership, use, keeping, possession, bearing, transportation, licensing, permit, registration, taxation other than sales and compensating use taxes or other controls on firearms, components, ammunition, and supplies except as provided in subsection 3.
In 2014, this statute was amended to include the following provision: “No ordinance shall be construed to preclude the use of a firearm in the defense of person or property . . . .”
In City of Cape Girardeau v. Joyce, the Court of Appeals of Missouri rejected a challenge to this statute under article 1, § 23 of the Missouri Constitution (the state “right to keep and bear arms”)4 The court stated:
Nothing in the Missouri constitution [sic] limits the power of the legislature to enact laws pertaining to the time, place and manner of carrying weapons. It is entirely proper for the General Assembly to recognize that the use and abuse of firearms are matters appropriately left to local control and to delegate its authority to regulate the carrying of firearms as is deemed necessary by political subdivisions of the state.5
Additionally, Missouri Revised Statutes § 21.750 precludes political subdivisions from filing certain lawsuits against the firearms industry.
In addition to the provisions of Missouri Revised Statutes § 21.750, the following specific statutory provisions remain on the books:
- Missouri grants authority to the councils of third class cities (cities and towns containing 3,000 or more inhabitants) and the boards of aldermen of fourth class cities (cities and towns that contain between 500 and 3,000 inhabitants or that contain more than 3,000 inhabitants and elect by majority vote to be treated as such) to “enact ordinances to . . . regulate, restrain, and prevent the discharge of firearms … in the streets or in the limits of the city”;6
- Missouri grants authority to the boards of trustees of villages and towns to “prohibit the firing of firearms”;7 and
- Missouri grants authority to the board of aldermen of a fourth class city “to adopt ordinances providing for the prohibition of and punishment for the carrying of concealed deadly weapons”8.
Finally, Missouri Revised Statutes § 571.107.1(6) provides that, subject to certain conditions, counties and municipalities may prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms, even by persons permitted to do so under state law, in any building or portion of a building owned, leased or controlled by the county or municipality. Criminal penalties may not be imposed for a violation, but the local laws may deny a violator entrance to the building, order a violator to leave the building and, if an employee of the unit of government, subject a violator to disciplinary measures.9