Last Updated: July 22, 2017
Disclaimer: While the information provided here is legal in nature, it is not to be construed as legal advice, and is for educational and entertainment purposes only.
Keeping up with the latest gun laws has become more important than ever in making sure you are on the right side of the law when it comes to owning and using your firearms.
As a gun-friendly state, Missouri only has a few gun laws that you’ll need to keep in mind. In this guide we’ll go over everything you need to know on how to buy a gun and be a responsible gun owner in the great state of Missouri!
Buying a Handgun
Missouri is pretty lax when it comes to the requirements for buying handguns, and no permit is required to buy a handgun. That doesn’t mean you can just pick up a gun off the shelf from your local gun store and waltz out the door, though.
To buy a handgun, you must:
- Be 21 or older;
- Provide state ID; and
- Have a background check performed by a licensed firearms dealer.
There are some shortcuts! Although federal law requires you to be 21 or older when buying a handgun, that law only applies to licensed firearms dealers, since they are regulated by federal law. That means you need to follow those rules for all purchase made at your local gun store.
Private gun sales, however, have slightly different requirements.
To buy a handgun through a private sale, you must:
- Be 18 or older; and
- Provide state ID.
You can buy a handgun 3 years sooner if you can make the purchase through a private seller. Of course, this means you won’t be able to buy that brand new Glock you’ve been eyeing, and will have to settle for used guns other gun owners are trying to get rid of, but it’s better than nothing!
For those of you paying attention, you’ll also notice no background check is required in a private firearms sale. One of the benefits of buying through a private sale!
But There’s a Catch
There’s always a catch! But this one is ok. Even if you meet all the requirements for a purchase, either from your local gun store, or from a private seller, you will still need to make sure you do not fall into any of the categories that prohibit you from owning a gun.
You cannot own a firearm if you:
- Have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for over a year;
- Are a fugitive from justice;
- Illegally abuse controlled substances;
- Have been adjudicated as mentally defective of incompetent, or have been committed to a mental institution;
- Are an illegal resident of the US;
- Are a former US citizen who has renounced his citizenship;
- Were dishonorably discharged from the US Armed Forces;
- Are subject to a restraining order;
- Were convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
If you try to purchase a firearm even if you are in one of these prohibited categories, you may get an unwanted visit from your local ATF and FBI agents.
For Antique Collectors
There’s some good news! Antique firearms are treated like another other type of item you can buy from Walmart, and none of the firearms requirements apply! Of course, you’ll need to make sure the gun you are trying to buy qualifies as an antique firearm in order to avoid all the steps for buying a regular gun.
An antique firearm is any firearm not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire ignition with fixed ammunition, and manufactured before 1899, with ammunition that is no longer being manufactured.
Some typical antique firearms are matchlock, wheel lock, flintlock, or percussion cap pistols. Replicas of these guns, as long as they meet all the requirements (except for being manufactured before 1899, of course), would also fall under the “antique firearms” definition.
Buying a Long Gun
The requirements for buying long guns are similar to those for buying handguns, so it is pretty easy to remember.
To buy a long gun, you must:
- Be 18 or older;
- Provide ID; and
- Have a background check performed by a licensed firearms dealer.
Of course, all of the prohibited categories for handguns apply here to long guns as well. Basically, as long as you are legally allowed to buy a handgun, you would be allowed to buy a long gun too.
If you decided to purchase a long gun through a private sale, you can avoid the hassle of the background check, and save yourself some time.
Once you’ve got your guns, you’ll want to show them off! Luckily, the state of Missouri does allow for open carry of firearms.
Open carry of firearms is allowed as long as the firearm is not shown in an angry or threatening manner. Waving that handgun in someone’s face will only get you in trouble, and result in having your gun confiscated.
Being a gun-friendly state, Missouri does not require a permit for concealed carry of handguns, as long as you meet some requirements.
To carry concealed, you must:
- Be 19 or older; or
- 18 or older and a member of the US Armed Forces or honorably discharged from the US Armed Forces.
Of course, you must be legally allowed to own a firearm in the first place in order to carry, either openly or concealed.
Even though no permit is required to carry concealed, Missouri does issue CCW permits. The reason for this is that other states throughout the US recognize a Missouri CCW permit, and will allow the permit holder to carry concealed, just like they would back in Missouri.
For those of you interested in learning more about the process to get the CCW permit and the specific laws you’ll need to pay attention to when carrying concealed, be sure to check out our Missouri CCW section to get all the details.
Transporting your firearms while travelling is pretty straightforward, as long as you keep in mind the requirements on open and concealed carry.
As long as you are allowed to openly carry your firearm, you can keep it in the car, where it is clearly visible. If you are allowed to carry concealed, then you can also have the gun in a concealed manner while in the car. Basically, however you are allowed to carry the gun while not in a car is how you can also transport the gun.
It’s important to keep in mind that the laws on transporting guns are the same for both long guns and handguns. You might not want to show off your AR-15 while walking down the street, but having it in the seat next to you while driving around town wouldn’t be too bad at all.
When Can You Use Your Gun?
It’s great to be able to buy and carry a gun and all, but when are you actually allowed to use your firearms? Aside from shooting at the range or while hunting, and at training courses (don’t forget to train!), we hopefully never have to discharge our firearms. However, if the situation does arise, Missouri has a set of laws for self-defense both in and outside the home.
Defending Your Castle
Following what is commonly known as the “Castle Doctrine”, Missouri allows for use of deadly force for self-defense inside the home. However, the law has very specific conditions on when deadly force may be used.
Deadly force may be used if you reasonably believe it is necessary to protect yourself or someone else, against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony (rape, kidnapping, etc.), against someone who illegally enters, stays after illegally entering, or is attempting to illegally enter your home or occupied vehicle.
It is important to keep in mind that you can only use deadly force to defend yourself against someone when the home or vehicle is occupied. You cannot shoot at someone who is trying to break into your empty car in the driveway to defend your property. It might be a really nice car, but no car is worth possible jail time for killing a would-be carjacker.
Standing Your Ground
The “Stand Your Ground” doctrine is slightly different from the Castle Doctrine, mostly because you are not limited to defending yourself and others while in your home or vehicle.
Missouri law allows you to “stand your ground”, which means that as long as you are somewhere you are legally allowed to be (i.e. a restaurant, supermarket, etc.), you do not have a duty to retreat before using deadly force, as long as you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent death, serious physical injury, or forcible felony against you or another person.
However, it is important to keep in mind, that even with these laws permitting self-defense, just because you are justified in using deadly force does not mean it is required. Always use your best judgement to decide what type of force is appropriate, when retreating may be the safer option for you and others around you.
And That’s That
With that, you’ve now got all the information you need to be a responsible Missouri gun owner!
Don’t forget to check out our CCW section to learn about the process to get a permit and defend your freedom everywhere you go.
If you’re looking to expand your skills before going the CCW route, that’s okay too! But you might want a sturdy safe to keep all your new toys, and keep them away from prying eyes while you’re out of the house.