JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri legislature should let stand the governor’s veto of a bill that would allow concealed carry of firearms without a permit, the state’s Catholic bishops have said.
“Catholic Church teaching recognizes the right to self-defense as a way of preserving one’s life and in defense of others in the face of an imminent threat,” the Missouri Catholic Conference said.
“We encourage Missouri citizens of good will, however, not to fall prey to the notion that we are somehow safer as individuals and as a society if everyone is always and everywhere armed.”
The conference statement was signed by all the state’s bishops.
The bishops said the current concealed carry permit process is “reasonable and prudent,” noting such steps as a background check and eight hours of formal training for permit applicants. The training includes instruction in loading, cleaning, storing, and discharging of firearms and lessons about the lawful and appropriate use of force.
Senate Bill 656 would decriminalize carrying concealed weapons without a permit. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill June 27, which passed the State House by a vote of 114 to 36 and the State Senate by a 24-8 vote.
Lawmakers can consider in September whether to sustain or override the veto, though the initial majorities are large enough to override it.
The governor said SB 656 would “render meaningless the existing authority of sheriffs to deny concealed carry permits.”
Nixon’s veto was supported by Missouri Police Chiefs Association and the state’s Faternal Order of Police.
The bill’s other provisions include a reduced penalty for carrying a firearm into buildings where it is not allowed. It would remove the legal duty for citizens who believe their life is in danger to retreat before using lethal force, and would also allow invited guests in a home to use lethal force on intruders, the Kansas City Star reports.
Missouri already allows open carry of firearms anywhere it is not expressly forbidden.
The bishops objected that the bill would allow citizens to carry concealed firearms without any training or other steps for a permit.
“Amending our current statutes to allow concealed carry without a permit is a move in the wrong direction, and we believe it would be detrimental to public safety and the common good,” the bishops said.
“We are not persuaded that this change will make us safer, or that it is in any way necessary,” the bishops added.
“On the contrary, we think that doing away with the training requirement would undermine public safety and potentially put law enforcement at risk.”