The Complete Guide to Gun Charges in Missouri

Every American citizen has the right to bear arms, at least until something goes wrong. When things go wrong your right to own and possess firearms may be taken away, at best, and you may go to prison in the worst of circumstances. Missouri is a gun friendly state, and if that’s important to you then it’s vital that you fully understand gun laws and charges in the state so you can remain on the right side of the law, or take action to retain your right to bear arms.

Any firearms charge is a serious offense, and if you or someone you know has been charged with one it’s important you educate yourself on the different charges so you can act accordingly. If you need immediate help from a criminal defense lawyer in the St. Louis metro area, you can call us at (314) 900-HELP or contact us today for a free consultation, however, if you have more time, read on as this article will guide you through everything you need to know about gun charges in Missouri.

Do I Need a Background Check to Purchase a Gun?

Yes, if you are buying your firearm from a store you will have to go through a background check. However, there are no background checks required for a private sale. The buyer must be 19 years old, provide ID, and if the seller has any prior knowledge that the buyer is not lawfully allowed a firearm, they may be in legal trouble if this is discovered.

Other requirements for purchasing a firearm from a store in Missouri are:

  • Citizen or resident of the US, and resident of Missouri
  • Have taken a firearms training course
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor
  • Do not meet any of the other criteria listed in the Unlawful Possession of a Firearm section below

Do I Need a Permit to Own a Gun?

No, you don’t need a permit and you don’t need to register your firearms in Missouri, and there is no waiting period prior to purchase.

Do I Need a Permit to Sell a Gun or Ammunition?

No, Missouri does not require to own a license, though if you intend to do so on a commercial basis, check with your local jurisdiction. You do not need to ensure that the person purchasing ammunition from you has a license or permit, nor do you need to maintain a record of who has purchased ammunition from you.

Firearms and Minors in Missouri

You can buy or give a minor a firearm in Missouri, though they aren’t allowed to buy one for themselves, provided you have the consent of their parent or legal guardian. Missouri does not penalize individuals for negligently storing or leaving a gun where a child can easily gain access to it.

Do I Need a Permit to Carry a Gun?

Missouri is a constitutional carry state, which means you don’t need a permit to conceal or openly carry a firearm, however, there are some areas where concealed carry is restricted, and you require a CCW permit in these areas so it’s best to check with local law.  

You are free to carry your gun in your vehicle, and you don’t have to notify an officer if you are approached on official business.  

Obtaining a concealed carry license is a good idea if you want to carry your gun freely but often travel into built-up areas that may require them, or travel out of state, though you need to check that those states honor your license.

Can I Own Semi-Automatic and Fully Automatic Weapons?

You can own, and hunt with, some semi-automatic rifles. If you want to own a fully automatic weapon in Missouri, you must go through an intensive FBI background check and pay the federal firearms tax.

How Do Laws in Missouri Differ from Other States?  

Missouri has some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States, and providing you don’t meet any of the conditions to why you aren’t allowed to possess a gun (see the Unlawful Possession of a Firearm section below), you should be able to legally own a gun without registering it with the state, without registering it or obtaining a license or permit.

Missouri has come under some criticism for its especially lax gun laws and scores an “F” by Giffords Law Center, an organization against gun control. In 2017, Missouri had the sixth highest gun death rate among the states, and it supplied “crime guns” to other states at a higher rate than the national average, due to the fact that the state exports more “crime guns” than it imports.

Missouri Gun Offenses

Below you’ll find a list of the different gun offenses in Missouri and the classes of charge you can receive for these offenses.

Class C Felony – a prison term not exceeding 7 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Class D Felony– a prison term up to 7 years or one 1 year in jail, and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Class A Misdemeanor – maximum jail time of 1 year and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Class B Misdemeanor – maximum jail time of 6 months and a maximum fine of $500.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm: Class C Felony

A person is guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm if they have a firearm in their possession and they:

  • have been convicted of a felony under Missouri law, or another crime in the US that would be considered a felony within Missouri
  • are a fugitive
  • habitually intoxicated (alcohol or other substances)
  • adjudicated as a mental defective or have been committed to any mental institution
  • are an illegal alien
  • were dishonorably discharged from the armed forces
  • renounced their US citizenship
  • are subject to a restraining order from an intimate partner or child of an intimate partner
  • have been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

This does not apply to antique firearms.

A charge for unlawful possession of a firearm is a serious offense, and you should seek advice from a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Possession, Manufacturing, Transporting, Repair, or Sale of Specific Weapons and Ammunition: Class C Felony or Class A Misdemeanor

This can apply to weapons other than guns (such as explosives), but for the purpose of this guide, we will focus solely on the crimes relating to firearms. A person is guilty of committing a crime if they knowingly possess, manufacture, transport, repair, or sell:

  • Any bullet or projectile that explodes or detonates on impact due to an independent explosive charge
  • A gas gun
  • A machine gun
  • Any short-barreled rifle or shotgun
  • A silencer for a firearm

If you are found in possession of a gun while intoxicated you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If you are found in possession with an unloaded firearm in a school facility you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the weapon is loaded the crime increases to a Class D felony.

Unlawful possession of a machine gun, short-barreled rifle, sawn-off shotgun, or silencer is a federal offense, and will be taken seriously. If you’ve made a mistake, a criminal defense lawyer will be able to get to work defending your case.

Unlawful Use of a Weapon: Class D Felony or Class B Misdemeanor

It is illegal to use weapons in certain ways in Missouri, and in specific circumstances. This pertains to guns in the following ways:

  • Setting a spring gun
  • Shooting a firearm into a home, car, boat, aircraft, or any structure in which people assemble
  • Angrily exhibiting a weapon in the presence of one or more people
  • Discharging a firearm within 100 yards of an occupied school, church or courthouse.

All of the above are Class D felonies, other than discharging a firearm within 100 yards of any occupied school, church, or court, which is a Class B misdemeanor. This also includes shooting a firearm across or along a public highway (any road), carrying a firearm into a church, into a precinct on election day, or into any government building.

Defacing a Firearm: Class A Misdemeanor  

It is also a crime in Missouri to knowingly deface any firearm. This means that any action that destroys or renders any identifying marks (such as those made by a manufacturer or importer).

Fraudulent Purchase of a Firearm: Class D Felony  

Illegally obtaining a firearm and fraudulent purchase happens when a person solicits, persuades, encourages, or otherwise persuades anyone to sell a firearm or ammunition when the buyer knows the transaction would violate the law.

This includes if you provide false information to attempt to purchase firearms. Anyone who attempts to use another person to buy prohibited firearms or provide a seller with false information also is guilty of the crime.

Firearms and Domestic Violence

Missouri does not prohibit individuals convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition (though federal law does), nor does it require the surrender of firearms and ammunition by domestic abusers who are prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law, or the removal of firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident, though the attending offers may do so.

Do I Have to Report a Lost or Stolen Firearm?

No, in Missouri you are not required to report the loss or theft of a firearm, though in many cases it is smart to do so if you believe the firearm has been stolen.

What Should I Do if I’ve Received a Charge for a Gun Offense?

If you or someone you love has received any charge for a gun offense in Missouri you need a criminal defense lawyer on your side. An experienced criminal offense attorney will be able to act quickly to ensure your case doesn’t escalate further and advise you on what action to take next. Depending on the severity of your charge, your freedom to possess firearms or even your own freedom may be at stake.

We are experienced St. Louis criminal defense attorneys, and we’ll act quickly to advise you on your case in a free consultation, and then get to work on your case right away. Every one of our clients gets full personal attention and we are available 24 hours a day from the moment of arrest. We’ll work to get you the very best outcome, whether the case goes to trial or not. As experienced St. Louis criminal defense attorneys, we understand that mistakes happen, and we’re dedicated to ensuring they don’t take away your liberty.