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State eases process to buy handguns

Thursday, July 19, 2007

SIKESTON -- Missourians can soon cut down on some of the requirements before buying a handgun.

Gov. Matt Blunt recently signed Senate Bill 62, also known as the Castle Doctrine Law. The requirement that residents obtain permits from their local sheriff before purchase was repealed as part of the bill.

"It's going to expedite the process for people to buy guns," said Tom Beardslee, chief deputy at the Scott County Sheriff's Department.

Kathy Pelczynski, administration sergeant there, said "it would definitely cut down on work" for the department. This year, 281 such permits have been issued in the county.

Although the department charged $10 per permit, it never turned a big profit, Beardslee said.

Alan Reiman, owner of Re Armms Inc. in Sikeston, called the checks "redundant," since a person also needs approval from the FBI to legally obtain a firearm. The change in law will make it easier for the honest person to buy a gun, he said.

Before the law was signed, someone who wanted to purchase gun would pick one out, then take the serial number to their county sheriff's department, Reiman said. The permit would be approved or disapproved, then once the customer returned to the store with the paperwork, an employee would call the FBI for another background check.

"It's kind of a time-consuming process for them when the FBI actually does the approval or denials," Reiman said. "They've got other things to do other than spend an hour trying to get someone a purchase permit."

Beardslee said the process has been a bit different for the county since Walter took office. Scott County has an open permit law, which wouldn't require the serial number until sometime within 30 days of the purchase.

Beardslee identified one potential negative to the change in law: that some mentally unstable people may be able to purchase guns, since all that information is not included in the database.

According to the bill, certain mental health records are to be made available to the Highway Patrol for reporting to the National Instant Background Check System.

Reiman also pointed out that since the permits are no longer necessary, individuals may sell their guns to others who should not have them, according to law, because they don't have access to all those records. He suggested those wanting to sell a gun do it through a dealer, who is authorized to run background checks.

The sponsor of the initiative, Rep. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, said only about a dozen other states still have requirements beyond the federal ones. It will go into effect Aug. 28.