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Missouri Gun Control Laws

Gun issues are a thorny topic. While the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, states have some freedom to regulate the sale and ownership of guns. Missouri gun control laws are loose compared to other states. Missouri gun laws do not provide for waiting periods or require background checks for gun purchases from unlicensed individuals.

Gun regulations appear in both state and federal law. For example, the federal government sets up licensing for firearms dealers and sets certain prohibitions on weapons and those who can possess them. State law may then provide restrictions on the carrying of firearms. 

States can also set licensing requirements. Some states ban certain deadly weapons in response to gun violence. Others set laws to promote gun safety, often to reduce access to guns by minors.

Missouri Gun Control Laws at a Glance

State lawmakers often struggle to balance the rights of gun owners with the need for public safety. Gun violence such as the 2024 mass shooting at the Super Bowl victory parade in Kansas City brings the issue of guns back into public view. 

The state of Missouri continues to tip the balance in favor of gun rights in most circumstances. Missouri does not ban assault weapons or require firearm owners to register their weapons. It does not require a license to purchase a firearm. 

State lawmakers passed a permitless carry law in 2017 over a governor's veto. This law enables people to carry concealed weapons without first obtaining a concealed carry license, passing a background check, or completing a firearms safety course.

Missouri law doesn't state a minimum age for possessing a firearm. It prohibits transferring a firearm to a minor (under 18 years old) without the consent of the custodial parent or legal guardian. Exceptions apply for those in the Armed Forces or National Guard while on duty. 

Under federal law, a licensed dealer cannot sell a handgun to anyone under 21 years old or a long gun to anyone under 18 years old, with limited exceptions. Missouri law likewise outlaws providing a concealable firearm to a minor.

In 2021, the Missouri General Assembly passed the Second Amendment Preservation Act. This law, signed by Governor Mike Parson, stated that Missouri would not enforce or assist in the enforcement of federal gun laws it viewed as infringements on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

The law was struck down in a federal district court in Missouri as an unconstitutional violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, among other reasons. The Eighth Circuit federal appeals court allowed the lower court's order to stand and prevented state enforcement of the law while the case remained pending. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene early in the case, allowing the lower court rulings to stand at this time.

State laws that attempt to limit cooperation with the federal government or with federal law over firearms often confuse state and local law enforcement officers. Missouri's law provided for the possibility of $50,000 fines against municipalities if local police officers assisted federal law enforcement or cooperated with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). 

The state's appeal of the federal district court ruling remains pending in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for now.

Although Missouri is a permitless carry state, it continues to provide an optional concealed carry permit process for permit-holders who seek reciprocity to carry in other states. Eligibility requirements appear in the table below. Missourians can apply for a concealed carry permit with your local sheriff.

Permitless carry laws do not sanction those prohibited from possessing a firearm from carrying one. State and federal prohibitions on who can possess a firearm still apply. 

Missouri law also contains location restrictions for firearms. Prohibited locations include:

  • Schools, with limited exceptions
  • Universities and colleges
  • Police, sheriff, highway patrol stations and offices
  • Polling places on election day
  • Jails, prisons, and detention facilities
  • Courthouses and courtrooms
  • Meetings of a governing body of a local government or the state General Assembly with an exception for members
  • Licensed establishments that sell liquor on premises for consumption (with limited exceptions)
  • Airports
  • Childcare facilities
  • Riverboat gambling operations open to the public (limited exceptions)
  • Amusement parks
  • Churches and other places of religious worship (limited exceptions)
  • Private property (with posted signage)
  • Certain sports arenas and stadiums
  • Hospitals accessible to the public
  • Locations prohibited under federal law

Although Missouri has a preemption law preventing cities and counties from passing gun laws in conflict with state law, it does allow these entities to prohibit firearms in their local government buildings and offices.

Overview of Missouri Gun Laws​

The basics of Missouri's permissive gun control laws are summarized below.

Relevant Missouri Gun Control Statutes (Laws)

Missouri Statutes, Title XXXVIII, Crimes and Punishment, Chapter 571, Weapons Offenses

Illegal Arms

The following are illegal in Missouri if in violation of federal law:

  • Machine guns
  • Short-barreled rifles
  • Short-barreled shotguns
  • Firearm silencers
Missouri also bans possession or use of the following:
  • Bullets or projectiles that explode upon impact
  • Gas guns
  • Defaced firearms
  • Metal-penetrating bullets (in commission of crime)
  • Spring guns

Waiting Period

Missouri does not require a waiting period for purchasing a gun.

Who May Not Own

A person cannot possess a firearm if the person:

  • Has been convicted of a felony
  • Is a fugitive from justice
  • Is habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition
  • Is currently adjudged mentally incompetent

License Required?

No. Missouri does not require a license to buy or own a gun.

Concealed Carry License Required?

No. Missouri does not require a permit for otherwise law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms. There are some locations where a person cannot carry a concealed firearm.

Open Carried Allowed?

Yes. Missouri allows for open carry of firearms. Missouri law also allows a person with a concealed carry permit to briefly and openly display a firearm to another person, as long as the firearm is not intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner. Location restrictions can still apply to open and concealed carry.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

The sheriff of the county or city where the applicant resides shall issue a concealed carry permit if the applicant meets the following requirements:

  • Is at least 19 years of age, or is at least 18 and a member of or honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Is a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Is a Missouri resident or is a member, or the spouse of a member, of the military stationed in Missouri
  • Submits a completed application for a permit
  • Submits an affidavit attesting that the applicant complies with the firearms safety training requirement
  • Has not pled guilty to or entered a plea of nolo contendere or been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, other than a crime classified as a misdemeanor under the laws of any state and punishable by a term of imprisonment of two years or less that does not involve an explosive weapon, firearm, firearm silencer, or gas gun
  • Has not been convicted of, pled guilty to, or entered a plea of nolo contendere to one or more misdemeanor offenses involving crimes of violence within five years immediately preceding application for a concealed carry permit
  • Has not been convicted of two or more misdemeanor offenses involving driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs or the possession or abuse of a controlled substance within five years immediately preceding application for a concealed carry permit
  • Is not a fugitive from justice or currently charged in an information or indictment with the commission of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, other than a crime classified as a misdemeanor under the laws of any state and punishable by a term of imprisonment of two years or less that does not involve an explosive weapon, firearm, firearm silencer, or gas gun
  • Has not been discharged under dishonorable conditions from the United States Armed Forces
  • Has not engaged in a pattern of behavior, documented in public or closed records, that causes the sheriff to have a reasonable belief that the applicant presents a danger to himself or others
  • Is not adjudged mentally incompetent at the time of application or for five years prior to application, or has not been committed to a mental health facility
  • Is not the respondent of a valid full order of protection which is still in effect
  • Is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law
  • Submits their fingerprints and passes a criminal background check

Machine Gun Laws

Missouri prohibits possessing a machine gun if possessing it violates federal machine gun laws.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession and Use

Missouri's penalties for firearm crimes include:

  • Unlawful use of weapons can be a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. Where the crime results in injury or death to another person, it can be a Class A felony, punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison or a life sentence.
  • Use or possession of metal-piercing bullets in the commission of a crime is a Class B felony, punishable by five to 15 years in prison.
  • The crime of armed criminal action occurs when a person commits a felony with a deadly weapon. The penalty can be three to 15 years in prison consecutive to the sentence of the underlying felony crime. On a second offense, the penalty can increase to five to 30 years in prison.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm is a Class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Unlawful possession of a firearm after a conviction for a dangerous felony is a Class C felony, punishable by three to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Illegal possession of a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or sawed-off rifle is a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Unlawful transfer of a weapon and fraudulent purchase of a firearm can both be Class E felonies, punishable by up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Possession of a defaced firearm is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

Illegal possession of a firearm on school property is a class A misdemeanor if the firearm is unloaded and a class E felony if the firearm is loaded under most circumstances. Discharging a firearm within 100 yards of an occupied school is a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties are:

  • Class E felony: Up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both
  • Class A misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both
  • Class B misdemeanor: Up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both

Red Flag Law?

No. Missouri has no red flag law to remove guns from persons found to be a threat to themselves or others.

Universal Background Checks?

No. Missouri does not require a criminal background check on private sales of firearms not going through a licensed dealer.

Stand Your Ground Law?

Yes. In cases of justifiable self-defense, a person can use deadly force to repel an attack when they reasonably find that deadly force is necessary. There is no duty to retreat when the person is in their dwelling, residence, or motor vehicle (Castle doctrine), or anywhere a person has a right to be.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.

Research the Law

Missouri Gun Control Laws: Related Resources

Questions About Your Gun Rights? Speak With an Attorney

If you have been charged with a Missouri gun crime or have specific questions about your gun rights, consider seeking legal advice from an experienced attorney. You can speak with a local Missouri criminal defense lawyer to discuss your rights and any criminal defense.

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