Weapons Charges in Missouri

Learn about Missouri’s limited restrictions on possessing, carrying, and using firearms.

By , Legal Editor

Missouri has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country. You don't need a license to carry handguns or other firearms—either openly or concealed—in the state. However, Missouri continues to issue concealed carry licenses, which give license holders the right to carry in places that would otherwise be off-limits to concealed firearms. And the state does have some restrictions on gun possession and use. Read on for details.

Missouri Prohibitions on Firearms Possession

It's a Class D felony in Missouri to have any gun (other than an antique weapon) in your possession if you:

  • have been convicted of a felony
  • are a fugitive from justice
  • are habitually drunk or drugged, or
  • are legally considered mentally incompetent.

You can be charged with a Class E felony if you give or sell a gun to someone who meets that description.

Missouri law doesn't specifically make it a crime for minors (under age 18) to have guns. However, it's a Class A misdemeanor to sell or give a firearm to a minor without the consent of the child's parent.

It's also illegal (a Class A misdemeanor) to give a gun to anyone who's intoxicated. (Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 571.060, 571.070 (2019).)

Broader Federal Prohibitions on Gun Possession

Although Missouri's prohibitions on gun possession apply to relatively few people, federal law bars a wider range of people from having firearms, including former military members who've been dishonorably discharged, anyone who's been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or is subject to a domestic violence restraining order, and anyone who uses a drug that's listed as a controlled substance under federal law. In addition, it's against federal law for minors to have handguns except in certain circumstances, including when they have a parent's written consent with them. (18 U.S.C. § 922 (2019).)

When and Where Carrying a Gun Is Illegal in Missouri

It's against the law in Missouri to carry a gun or other deadly weapon in the following places:

  • a K-12 school, on a school bus, or anywhere a school function is taking place
  • a place of worship
  • an election precinct on election day, and
  • a federal or state governmental building.

There are many exceptions, including for those with concealed carry licenses, law enforcement officers, and anyone acting in legal self-defense. The restrictions also don't apply if the gun isn't accessible or functional, or if it's unloaded and you don't have accessible ammunition. Otherwise, you can be charged with a Class E felony for bringing a loaded gun to school or a Class B misdemeanor for bringing a firearm to one of the other restricted locations.

A number of other places in Missouri are off-limits for carrying concealed firearms, including:

  • college and universities
  • large sports arenas and stadiums
  • bars and other licensed businesses that get more than half of their income from liquor sales for on-site consumption
  • hospitals, and
  • any private property where the owner has posted signs prohibiting guns.

If you have a concealed carry license, however, you won't be charged with a crime for violating these restrictions. You'll simply be asked to leave—and may only receive a citation if you refuse to cooperate. It's also generally okay to keep a gun in your car at these restricted locations.

It's a Class E felony in Missouri to have a firearm while you're also in possession of an illegal drug (except a small amount of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoid. (Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 571.030, 571.107 (2019).)

Unlawful Use of Weapons

Except when you're acting in self-defense (or as part of official law enforcement or similar duties), Missouri outlaws shooting a gun in the following circumstances:

  • at a person
  • from or at a vehicle
  • into a house, train, boat, aircraft, motor vehicle, or any building where people gather
  • across or along a public highway, or
  • within 100 yards of an occupied school, courthouse, or church building.

Other illegal uses of weapons include:

  • handling or using a firearm in a negligent way while you're drunk
  • showing any deadly weapon to someone in an angry or threatening way (except in self-defense), and
  • setting a spring gun.

Criminal charges for these offenses range from Class B misdemeanors to Class E felonies.

You may also face more serious penalties in Missouri if you use a deadly weapon to commit some other crimes, like assault. (Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 575.052, 571.030 (2019).)

Finding Legal Help

Any time you're facing a possible weapons charge, it's important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can evaluate your case and help protect your legal rights throughout the criminal justice process.

Changes in the Law

States can change their laws any time, but you can use this Library of Congress search tool to find the current versions of Missouri statutes discussed in this article. However, court decisions may affect the interpretation and application of those laws—another good reason to speak to a lawyer if you're concerned about actual or potential weapons charges.

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