The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS — As it comes time for thousands of Missouri residents to renew their permits to carry concealed weapons, law enforcement officials say the controversial concealed-carry law has had little effect on crime rates.
Police say it has neither reduced nor increased crime overall. People don’t seem to be shooting others, or themselves, by accident in any greater numbers.
“When they were debating this, one side was saying it was going to reduce crime and another was saying it was going to cause gunfights in the streets,” Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I really haven’t seen either. It’s really a nonissue right now. You’re not having fights in the streets, but it’s not saving the world either.”
Toelke’s office received 853 initial applications for the three-year permits and rejected about 20 based on the required criminal background check. Toelke’s department has received about 220 renewal applications, with more coming in. Two have been rejected so far.
In suburban St. Louis County, more than 3,000 concealed-carry permits have been issued by the police in about two years, officials said. About 10 percent of applicants were rejected.
The St. Louis County Police Department said it has no record of ever responding to a call that someone had carried a gun into one of the many restricted locations.
In rural Jefferson County, Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer said he hasn’t seen evidence that the concealed weapons encourage gunfights, as many critics had worried.
“I feel a lot more comfortable now that we haven’t seen the ’John Wayne syndrome’ in effect,” Boyer said.
There have been some isolated incidents involving legally carried weapons.
In March, a Florida man with a valid permit from that state wounded a would-be robber who approached him with what turned out to be a pellet gun outside a motel in Bridgeton. In May 2006, another man with a Florida permit was charged with first-degree murder in St. Louis for fatally shooting someone in a street quarrel.
Missouri’s first permits were issued in 2004, although litigation delayed them from being issued in some areas. St. Louis and St. Louis County did not begin issuing them until 2005.
The law bans permit-holders from carrying firearms onto trains, buses or into public venues like courthouses, churches, sports stadiums or any property where a notice is posted. Violators face fines and possible revocation of the permit.
In St. Charles County, sheriff’s Lt. Craig McGuire said that while there have been no reports of such infractions there, by its nature a concealed weapon would not be obvious anyway.
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