I spent Thursday, Friday and Monday mornings calling every county sheriff’s office in Missouri.
Those guys are hard to track down. Many of them are working sheriffs and catching them in the office is rare.
Out of the 114, I was able to speak with forty-five, which is nearly 40 percent, a fairly good sample.
I asked each of them the same three questions:
- Do you support authorizing specially designated people to carry concealed weapons on school grounds?
- Do you agree with the age requirement for a concealed carry permit being lowered to 19?
- Do you support the effort to make the issuing of CCW permits a responsibility of the county sheriff’s office?
In answer to the first question, thirty-nine, or 86 percent, answered they did support it. Five were against and two were undecided. Those who supported it still had some reservations. Sheriff Brad DeLay of Lawrence County and Sheriff David Hoffman of Monroe County wants anyone carrying a gun on school grounds to go through more extensive training than what is offered in an eight hour concealed carry course. Sheriff Richard Lisenbe of Phelps County also supported the measure with the caveat anyone carrying would have special training. Sheriff Jimmy Shinn of Marion County and Sheriff Scott Keeler both said they’d support the move as long as the local law enforcement knew who was carrying a gun and what they looked like. That way no one was shot by mistake.
For the second question, the answers were split. Nineteen sheriffs, or 42 percent, supported lowering the age for a CCW permit to age 19, down from 21. Ten sheriffs were against it. But twelve sheriffs said they would support any nineteen year old who was in the military being allowed to get a concealed weapon permit. For the dissenters, the common reason was maturity. Another factor was it’s illegal for nineteen year olds to buy a handgun. It made no sense to some that they should be allowed to carry one concealed. There were four sheriffs who were undecided.
The final question found Missouri sheriffs overwhelming in favor of decentralizing the permitting process and moving it to the county level. Forty out of forty-five sheriffs surveyed, or 88%, agreed with moving the process. Sheriff Raymond Tipton of Hickory County said it’s the way it always should have been. Sheriff Randee Kaiser agrees, saying the sheriff’s office already does 90 percent of the work. There was one common factor between those who dissented and those who agreed. Many sheriffs were concerned about funding the process.
Mick Covington, Executive Director of the Missouri Sheriff’s Association, pointed out the move already has $2,000,000 earmarked for start up costs, and the process, after established, should pay for itself through the fees collected. At least one sheriff was skeptical that even if funding was in place that it would be enough. Many sheriffs were concerned this could become yet another unfunded mandate from Jefferson City.
Here’s the document I used to record the answers. It includes the sheriffs who did not return my calls and their phone numbers. I would encourage you to call your sheriff if he did not respond and find out his position.
I’ve had two more sheriffs call me today. Both would have answered in favor of supporting all three questions.