JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri sheriffs who gathered Friday for a meeting with state officials had a lot of questions about the state's new concealed weapons law.
But the meeting did not provide nearly as many answers.
To be frank, officials with the Missouri Department of Revenue said, they still do not know how some of the new law's provisions will work -- even as the state and sheriffs are scrambling to get ready for its Oct. 11 effective date.
The Missouri Sheriffs' Association was host of the meeting. Those in attendance also included legislative research staff, a few gun-rights advocates and Rep. Larry Crawford, a Centertown Republican who sponsored the bill.
"There's just an awful lot of things to do in a very short time," said Jim Vermeersch, executive director of the sheriffs' association.
The association and revenue officials agreed to have ready by Monday a draft of an application form that sheriffs would issue to qualified applicants. Sheriffs departments will have until the end of the week to comment on the proposed application form.
Many sheriffs and state officials had not focused on the details of the bill until now because it seemed unlikely to many that lawmakers would be able to override Gov. Bob Holden's veto of it. But when Republican Sen. Jon Dolan returned briefly from his military duty in Cuba last week, supporters of the measure suddenly had enough votes to make the override happen.
Under the new law, Missourians at least 23 years of age can apply for a concealed weapons permit if they are U.S. citizens and have lived in Missouri for at least six months or are a member of the military.
Applicants would have to pass an eight-hour firearms training class taught by an instructor certified by the National Rifle Association, the Missouri Department of Public Safety or a law enforcement agency.
If the trainees passed the course, they then could apply for a "certificate of qualification" at the local sheriff's office, where applicants would pay a fee not to exceed $100.
Many sheriffs officials had questions about how to determine whether an instructor was qualified to teach a course and how to verify that applicants truly completed the course requirements.
"About every other call I'm getting is from someone wanting to teach this course," said Cole County Sheriff John Hemeyer.
Hemeyer said that although he is an NRA-certified instructor himself, even that organization's curriculum does not cover all of the issues on use of force under Missouri law.
Under the law, the sheriff's office would fingerprint the applicant and then send the prints on to the Missouri Highway Patrol for a criminal background check. If no state criminal records are found, the Highway Patrol then would forward the applicant's prints and name to the FBI for a national background check.
If the applicant cleared the background process, the sheriff would issue a certificate of qualification, which entitles the applicant to receive an endorsement from the state to carry a concealed weapon. If a sheriff turned down an application, the law outlines a procedure to appeal the denial.
While sheriffs' association officials may have a standard application form ready by Oct. 11, they are unsure whether they can get the certificates of qualification ready by the effective date. Revenue officials said it might take weeks to get certificates printed that are numbered and have carbon copies on security paper.
One of the most challenging portions of the new law is how the state will issue the actual "endorsement" to carry concealed weapons. Ultimately, the Department of Revenue has until July of next year to solve that problem, with approved applicants able to carry their sheriff-issued certificates until then.
The law, however, says the department shall issue an endorsement on a driver's license or state identification card. A driver's license is good for six years, but a concealed-carry endorsement is good only for three years.
What happens when the concealed-carry endorsement expires? A person who has the endorsement on his license would have to renew the endorsement and get a new license, Revenue Department officials said.
Would these licenses with endorsements have a three-year expiration date?
"These are certainly issues we need to figure out," said Steve Ahlers, the department's legislative liaison
Well they need to come up with something. Jen and I are taking the class tuesday and I plan to be standing in line at the sheriffs office saturday morning, the 11th of october.
I did a bit of reading of the legislation, it seems they can take up to 45 days to issue your permit.
If the Guv had passed this back in July then there would have been plenty of time to get the wheels in motion. Thanks to him nobody knows what to do and are getting nothing accomplished with a concrete deadline looming just days away.
Thanks again bob, from the state of missouri.
BTW, from what I have read the new laws look pretty cut and dry. Very specific with little or no ambiguity. I think they can work this out rather easily.
Our sheriff's Dept. is only open 5 days a week. I gotta wait 'till Monday. that sux!