On January 1, the state of Missouri made changes to the conceal and carry gun laws.

Prior to January 1, it was unlawful for a person to possess any concealed weapon unless they had a conceal to carry weapons permit (CCW). If stopped by law enforcement, the charge was considered a misdemeanor if the weapon was unloaded and a felony charge if the weapon was loaded.

In order to obtain a CCW, individuals had to pass a variety of requirements including background checks, completing a weapons safety course and filling out the necessary paperwork with their local county sheriff’s office.

Now, Missouri law-abiding citizens with clean criminal records are free to carry a concealed weapon without obtaining a CCW permit. Individuals will no longer have to pass a background check or a weapons safety course in order to carry a concealed weapon.

Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice is in favor of the new law.

“It is not the law-abiding citizens that are the problem, it is the criminals and right now, since the criminals don’t follow the rules anyway, they are the ones possessing weapons,” Rice said. “There’s nothing wrong with a citizen having the ability to protect themselves. I believe whole-heartedly it is the right decision to make.”

All other restrictions still apply. Individuals can not carry a concealed weapon if they are a felon, declared mentally incompetent or have restraining or protective orders against them.

It does not change the punishments for persons who brandish a weapon or use it in a threatening or unlawful manner.

Whether you have a CCW or not, you can not carry a weapon into the following buildings: schools, churches, government buildings, public hospitals and others as stated in state statute 571.107.

Any person or entity can restrict people from bringing a concealed or non-concealed weapon onto their property. A no-weapons sign must be hung in a conspicuous area and be compliant with state regulations.

This law, that eliminates the need for a CCW permit, is only for Missouri. Those individuals who travel outside of the state need to be aware of laws and regulations of other states.

Most states have a reciprocity law, which means they would recognize a valid Missouri CCW permit, allowing those with a current CCW permit to carry concealed weapons across state lines. However, travelers need to be proactive and check the laws. If they are found in violation of another state’s law, it could mean criminal charges.

“Be careful when crossing the state line wherever you go and make sure you are compliant with whatever their rules are,” Rice stated.