A law on unfunded mandates could block a Missouri measure easing possession rules for concealed handguns, reports the Kansas City Star. Former U.S. Rep. Mel Hancock favors the handgun rules, but he believes that a state constitutional amendment he wrote may stop them.
“It’s pretty obvious that it (the concealed weapons law) is an unfunded mandate,” said Hancock, a Republican from the Springfield area. The Missouri Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the concealed weapons law, which allows residents 23 and older who pass a background check and who undergo training to carry concealed weapons.
Adopted by voters in 1980, the Hancock amendment prohibits the state from “requiring any new or expanded activities by counties and other political subdivisions without full state financing, or from shifting the tax burdens to counties and other political subdivisions.”
The law allows sheriffs to charge as much as $100 on each application for a concealed gun permit. Attorneys challenging the law argue that the law imposes an unfunded mandate because it says the money “shall only be used by law enforcement agencies for the purchase of equipment and training.” Says Hancock: “They’re saying to the sheriff, ‘Here’s what you’ve got to do. Now it’s up to you to raise the money.’ The sheriff has to do it (issue the conceal-carry permits). Unless the state provides the money to do it with, then that’s an unfunded mandate.”