Hand gun and judges gavel

Missouri “Gun Free Zones” and Your Right to Carry

Howard L. Lotven, P.C. Oct. 19, 2023

If you or a loved one is being charged with violating a gun-free zone in Missouri, it’s natural to have questions. 

First, it’s important to understand that Missouri falls into the categories of “permitless carry,” “open carry” and “concealed carry” when it comes to legal possession of firearms. Permitless means that an individual does not have to obtain a concealed carry permit (CCP) to have a firearm on their person, either openly or concealed. The only qualifications are that the person be 19 years of age or older and be eligible to purchase a firearm (18 if you are in the military). 

Missouri adopted this policy effective January 1, 2017, but it is not without restrictions. There are several categories of locations where you cannot bring a firearm, which are called “gun-free zones.” Municipalities are also allowed to restrict firearm open and concealed carry and require a CCP. 

Missouri also recognizes the “Castle Doctrine” principle by which an individual can use deadly force if threatened on their own property, which could be their home, place of business, or even their car. Missouri also became the 25th state to adopt a “stand your ground” law, which means that you can defend yourself, as opposed to states that adopt a “duty to retreat” law. Duty to retreat means that you must find the nearest shelter or escape route before defending yourself if threatened. 

As for gun-free zones, these are specified by law. The relevant statute changed the definition of “unlawful use of a weapon” to apply only when a person carries a weapon into a place that is off-limits per Missouri restrictions.  

Have you or someone you love been accused of violating a gun-free zone? Contact Howard L. Lotven, P.C. I am a criminal defense attorney who represents clients in or around Kansas City, Missouri, including Independence, Rock Point, and Lexington. I will listen to your story if you’re facing an investigation or charge, and develop a defense strategy aimed at obtaining the best result possible. 

What Are Gun-Free Zones?

Gun-free zones are areas or buildings into which you cannot openly carry or concealed carry a firearm. As noted above, municipalities can further restrict open carry. Gun-free zones include but are not necessarily limited to: 

  • A law enforcement office or station without consent from the chief law enforcement officer 

  • Within 25 feet of a polling place on election day 

  • Any adult or juvenile detention or correctional facility 

  • Any courthouse 

  • Any meeting place for local government or general assembly 

  • Any building licensed to sell alcohol unless you have consent from the owner or manager. If it’s a restaurant, the business has to receive at least 51 percent of its income from food for someone to legally carry a weapon in it 

  • Airports 

  • Any school, college, or university without the consent of school officials 

  • Child care facilities without consent from the manager 

  • Riverboats without consent 

  • Amusement parks 

  • Churches 

Note also that, in addition to these locations, anyone owning private property can post signs prohibiting the open or concealed carry of firearms (more on this below). 

When Is a Concealed Carry Permit (CCP) Needed?

Missouri since 2017 has become what is called a “shall issue” state, which means that you can openly carry or conceal carry firearms without obtaining a permit. However, individuals who travel to other states for business or other reasons may wish to obtain a CCP.  

The requirements for a CCP are that you must prove your residency in Missouri, be 18 years of old or older, and undergo a certified gun training program. There is also a fee to obtain the permit. However, even with a CCP issued in Missouri, other states may not recognize its legitimacy. 

Prohibiting Firearms on Your Private Property

Missouri Revised Statutes Section 571.107 spells out the parameters:  

“Any private property whose owner has posted the premises as being off-limits to concealed firearms by means of one or more signs displayed in a conspicuous place of a minimum size of eleven inches by fourteen inches with the writing thereon in letters of not less than one inch.... If the building or the premises are open to the public, the employer of the business enterprise shall post signs on or about the premises if carrying a concealed firearm is prohibited.” 

Possible Penalties for Gun-Free Zone Violations

Carrying a firearm into a legally restricted, or gun-free, zone is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. It is considered a Class B Misdemeanor. However, if the person is intoxicated, the penalties can rise to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine under the charge of a Class A Misdemeanor. 

A Class D or Class A Felony can also be charged, especially if there are serious injuries or death involved. With a Class A Felony, you could face 10 years to life in prison if convicted. 

Protect Your Rights with Experienced Legal Counsel

If you do violate a gun-free zone and are facing investigation or charges in or around Kansas City, contact me at Howard L. Lotven, P.C. I have been advocating for people’s rights and defending them against criminal charges since opening my own practice. As a former prosecutor and judge, I understand the legal system from all sides of the aisle and can mount a strong defense on your behalf.