Missouri statutes allow for open carry firearms in designated places, however, some municipalities have local ordinances that prevent it. Part of the national and state gun debate recently was brought close to home.
After two Wildwood residents asked Wildwood city council members to lift the ban on open carry guns at the latest council meeting, Eureka-Wildwood Patch on Tuesday published the article about the development, along with a poll asking readers if they support open carry.
See related article: Prohibiting Open Carry Guns in Wildwood Violates Rights, Claims Residents
At the time of publishing this article, 266 respondents voted—yielding 93 percent (248 voters) said yes; 6 percent (16 voters) indicating no; and 1 percent (two voters) being undecided.
"Open carry guns are legal in 95 percent of Missouri," said Wildwood resident Marc Perez. "It's strange that open carry is not allowed in Wildwood, and probably unconstitutional."
Perez said he believes the local, anti-open carry ban infringes upon people's rights, particularly Second Amendment guarantees. He said he has spoken to police chiefs in other municipalities who say they would rather know who is carrying a gun. Some police officers believe the sight of firearms may make felons go elsewhere, he said.
"And at least when people are openingly carrying guns, you know they have been through a record check, fingerprints and documentation," he said.
Perez said citizens with registered guns have prevented crimes, such as in a Florissant example. "In St. Charles, people with open carry guns have been thanked for helping to keep the peace."
The open carry issue prompts some elements similar to two other recent legislations about non-smoking laws and local restrictions on certain types of prescribed medications. One vital part of these type of debates always is whether major actions, such as these, should be handled on a local, piece-by-piece manner, or done as a unit across the entire St. Louis County.
In the case of firearms, nearby Clarkson Valley does not ban open carry guns, but the immediately neighboring municipalities of Eureka and Ellisville do.
Wildwood City Administrator Dan Dubruiel said, in general, open carry guns have not been much of a local discussion recently. "The city's open carry gun ordinance was amended several times over the last eight years."
Any potential changes in the future would first start with discussions among members of Wildwood's Board of Public Safety.
Another Wildwood resident, Scott Eguires, told council members at the Feb. 27 meeting he believes open carry is a protected right, the same as freedom of speech. "Regardless if you like it (open carry firearms) or not, it's your job to protect those rights, as city council. I hope you will reconsider the ban on open carry."
Editor's Note: Some states have varying parameters about open carry gun legislation, such as in California where it is allowed if the guns are unloaded. Some other St. Louis cities, such as Olivette, have considered a ban. Take a look at the accompanying video from Missouri Sen. Brian Nieves (R-Washington) about one current piece of proposed Missouri legislation. This new law would make it illegal for "political subdivisions" to be able to regulate the carrying of firearms. Nieves covers District 26 for west St. Louis County, Franklin County and Warren County. To review SB 680, click here.