Missouri Gun Laws Prohibit Using a Weapon in 12 Cases
February 21, 2023
Missouri has a reputation for its loose laws on owning and carrying a weapon, but the state does send people to prison for the unlawful use of a weapon. The Missouri Revised Statute for Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Mo. Rev. Stat.§ 571.030, includes 12 ways a gun cannot be used or carried. If gun owners break the law, they face the possibility of a felony conviction and prison time.
When is the Use of a Weapon Unlawful in Missouri?
When the Jefferson City criminal defense attorneys at Kirsch and Kirsch defend a person accused of a weapons crime, we refer to the Missouri Revised Statute for Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Mo. Rev. Stat.§ 571.030. The statute lists the following times weapons cannot be used and several others.
- Carrying a firearm or other weapon into any area where firearms are restricted.
- Carrying a potentially lethal weapon into a church, election precinct, or government property.
- Having a gun (loaded or unloaded) on school property.
- Discharging a firearm in or at an occupied vehicle, house, or other building where people gather. An exception is the Castle Doctrine, a law which gives Missourians the right to use deadly force to defend their own property in some cases.
- Firing a lethal weapon within 100 yards of schools, churchs, or courthouses.
- Carrying a weapon when in possession of a controlled substance.
- Handling a weapon in a negligent way while under the influence of alcohol.
- Possessing a weapon while intoxicated.
- Intimidating another person by “flashing,” or showing, a weapon in an angry or threatening manner.
- Shooting a gun on or across a highway.
- Shooting a gun toward a person or building while driving.
- Firing a weapon anywhere that is prohibited by local ordinances.
The statute includes exceptions for people who carry weapons as part of their job: law enforcement officers, both on and off-duty; wardens, superintendents, and keeper of prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities; members of the Armed Forces or National Guard (while they are performing their duties); federal judges; parole officers; process servers; and others.
The Missouri Revised Statute for Unlawful Use of a Weapon also lists the penalties for breaking Missouri gun laws.
What Are the Consequences of Breaking Missouri Gun Laws?
People charged with unlawful use of a weapon can face serious penalties if convicted. In many cases, unlawful use of weapons is a class E felony with sentences ranging from one day in jail to four years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.
The lifelong impact of a felony record often includes:
- Losing a job.
- Trouble getting a new job.
- Not being able to rent a house or apartment.
- Loss of the privilege to own a firearm in Missouri.
- Loss of the right to vote.
- Loss of the right to sit on a jury.
When a person commits a felony armed with a deadly weapon, they can be charged with armed criminal action. Sentences for this unclassified felony range from three to 30 years in prison depending upon the nature of the crime.
Some Gun Law Violations are Misdemeanors
The Missouri Revised Statute on Unlawful Use of a Weapon does not include specific charges be filed for violations of the law because some situations are minor compared to others. Thus, charges can range from a class B Misdemeanor to a class A felony.
For example, if a father carries an unloaded pistol to a high school football game, and law enforcement finds out, he might be charged with a class B misdemeanor. If another parent carried a loaded gun to the game, he could be charged with a Class E felony.
How We Defend Those Accused of Unlawful Use of a Weapon
Anyone accused of violating Missouri gun laws needs to contact a criminal defense attorney right away, because prosecutors take action quickly in weapons cases. The speed at which the accused responds to charges may influence the outcome of the case. So will the amount of time the attorney has to prepare for trial.
At Kirsch and Kirsch, we look at all options for our clients accused of weapons violations. For example, a person accused of unlawful use of a weapon could contend that the scenario was a case of self-defense. Using our knowledge of Mo. Rev. Stat. §563.031, Use of Force in Defense of Persons, we determine whether this defense will stand up in court.
The Missouri gun law does not consider it self-defense if:
- The person accused of unlawful use of a weapon started the fight.
- There is insufficient evidence the accused needed to use force for protection.
- The shooting happened while the defendant was allegedly committing or attempting to commit a forcible felony.
When a case goes to trial, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the accused is guilty of the crime. In the case of self-defense, the prosecutor will say the accused could have avoided firing the weapon—and that the shooting was unwarranted. Criminal defense attorneys will often argue the shooting was necessary and unavoidable.
There is a fine line between guilty and not guilty in many weapons cases, so it is critical to have an attorney who knows Missouri gun laws and specializes in criminal defense. Jefferson City criminal defense attorneys Kirsch and Kirsch have helped countless clients clear their names and receive the best possible outcomes under the circumstances of their cases.
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense while using a firearm in Missouri, you deserve justice. Contact Kirsch & Kirsch today at 573-261-5867 for your free, confidential consultation.