Two Wildwood residents appealed to Wildwood city council members to consider changing the city's prohibition of open carry guns at the city's most recent council meeting on Feb. 27.
"Wildwood's ordinance that prohibits open carry goes well beyond simply having a hand gun on your hip in a holster," said Marc Perez, a resident who said he is working with Jefferson City legislators to remove what he considers an infringement of Second Amendment rights.
"If you have a firearm in your vehicle, on the seat, or a rifle rack in a city which prohibits open carry, you can be arrested. If you have a conceal carry permit and it becomes visible to a law enforcement officer by accident, same thing," said Perez.
Perez said the question he poses is: "What other constitutional right can be regulated by local government, and which should. Would you want your right to speak, assemble, pray, or vote be regulated by local government? I certainly hope not. That is why we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights for all citizens. Open carry is completely legal (except in buildings where state employees conduct business) in Missouri State Parks, however it is not legal in because it is in the city limits of Wildwood. The State constitution is trumped by a local law."
Scott Eguires, another Wildwood resident, also asked council members to reconsider the prohibition. "A handful of people sitting on a community board should not be allowed to make decisions based on personal feelings that go against what is granted to us as law-abiding U.S. citizens. As representatives, their job is not only to defend the Missouri Constitution but also the Constitution of the United States. They must put aside their disdain and stand by the oath by which they took."
To allow the banning of open carry in municipalities is no different than banning freedom of speech, Eguires told Patch after the meeting. "Both are protected by the constitution and are fundamental rights. Furthermore, it should be left to owners of private property and business owners as to whether or not to allow people carrying within their homes or establishments. It should not be the role of government," he said.
While Perez said it has never been legal to point a firearm at another person, or to threaten another person in any way with a firearm, Missouri law indicates any home owner or business may prohibit firearms. He said a list of prohibited places in the Missouri statutes includes, but is not limited to, schools, places of worship, voting places, secure parts of airports, public transportation, stadiums and hospitals.
All but seven states and the District of Columbia have some form of open carry gun laws, said Perez.
Open carry has been legal under Missouri Constitution (Article 1, Section 23, Aug. 28, 2010):
Right to keep and bear arms--exception.
Section 23. That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.
Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 17.
(2004) Section does not prohibit the General Assembly from enacting statutes allowing or disallowing the carrying of concealed weapons; the Concealed-Carry Act is therefore constitutional. Brooks v. State, 128 S.W.3d 844 There is a statute which allows local government to prohibit open carry:
3. Nothing contained in this section shall prohibit any ordinance of any political subdivision which conforms exactly with any of the provisions of sections 571.010 to 571.070, with appropriate penalty provisions, or which regulates the open carrying of firearms readily capable of lethal use or the discharge of firearms within a jurisdiction, provided such ordinance complies with the provisions of section 252.243.
Perez said he and others believe this statute is unconstitutional.
"The cost to challenge a Missouri Law through the court system is to say the least a problem," he said. "A group of 'pro-open carry' citizens are actively seeking to see the Missouri statute changed. There are several bills pending in the Missouri legislature at the present time."
One website hosts open carry gun discussions and chat groups by state; click here to access that information.
Perez said Missouri is a patchwork of legal versus illegal when it comes to local laws governing open carry guns, and that these local regulations can be difficult find.
What About Incidental Exposure of Guns?
Eguires told Wildwood council members he recently was having dinner with his family when halfway through the meal he noticed his jacket had risen above his concealed weapon, thereby exposing it. "This is called Incidental Exposure. Because the city where we were contains a no open carry clause in their municipal code, I was technically in violation. This has happened on more than one occasion—for example the simple act of reaching up in local stores or bending over often causes my weapon to become exposed," he said.
Eguires said he prefers to conceal his weapon, however when it becomes warm, he tends to wear lighter clothing, making him more susceptible to incidental exposure.
He agrees that local municipalities overriding open carry gun laws violates his personal rights.
He cites the Fourteenth Amendment in section 1: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
"It is clear by the Supreme Court’s decision and the Fourteenth Amendment that the ability to ban open carry by local municipalities in Missouri infringes on the fundamental right to bear arms (the word bear should not be interpreted as conceal)," said Eguires.