Sunday, April 1, 2012

Concealed Carry At The NRA Annual Meeting In St. Louis

Concealed carry has been a bone of contention over the years at the venues for the NRA Annual Meeting. Last year in Pittsburgh, there were no restrictions in the David Lawrence Convention Center and it was not unusual to see some people open carrying as well as concealed.

St. Louis will not be so accommodating to concealed carry and definitely not accommodating at all to open carry. The NRA posted this notice on the front page of their 2012 Annual Meeting website:
Note: The city of St. Louis prohibits the carrying of firearms at the America's Center Convention Complex.
I don't think I have to remind people that the State of Illinois - just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis - has no form of carry whatsoever  so don't even think about it there.

I've had a couple of readers contact me about the rules for carry in Missouri and any peculiarities for St. Louis itself.

First from Michael with links to the relevant Missouri law. I've consolidated his emails but here is the info he sent:
BTW, here's the Missouri weapons laws

It appears the statutes don't speak of facilities, in general, that seat over 5K but is limited to "Sports Arenas or stadiums..." (see the second highlighted section below). I'm not a sports fan so I had to look up Edward Jones Dome and it's unfortunately where the Rams football team plays. Ugghhh. America's Center appears to be complex surrounding or attached to the dome. I would hope the NRA would choose a location where law wouldn't prohibit exercise of our rights. I am going to contact the America's Center and find out for sure. I'll let you know what I find out.

Regarding the question on restaurants that serve alcohol, see the first highlighted section below. I'm not sure how the "average Joe" would know if a restaurant makes 51% of it's sales from food, but I would assume you would be okay if you chose a restaurant that also serves alcohol. I would assume bars & grills and pubs would not be allowed, or questionable at best, if you wish to carry. Based upon the information it would appear that you could enjoy a spirited beverages as long as you are not intoxicated. I would assume "intoxicated" would equate to the same standard as driving .08%, but it is not defined here.
The relevant sections that Michael highlighted are below:
On carry in establishments serving alcohol:

Section 571.107 (7) Any establishment licensed to dispense intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises, which portion is primarily devoted to that purpose, without the consent of the owner or manager. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to the licensee of said establishment. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to any bona fide restaurant open to the general public having dining facilities for not less than fifty persons and that receives at least fifty-one percent of its gross annual income from the dining facilities by the sale of food. This subdivision does not prohibit the possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises of the establishment and shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises. Nothing in this subdivision authorizes any individual who has been issued a concealed carry endorsement to possess any firearm while intoxicated;

On carry in sports arenas:

Section 571.107 (16) Any sports arena or stadium with a seating capacity of five thousand or more. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises;
Now from "Dirk Diggler" who is an attorney located in St. Louis County. I had wondered if carry was legal in the Jones Dome and America's Center as well as any prohibitions on carry in establishments which served alcohol.
I am a lawyer, so let me help you out. In regards to your questions, it is not so much that places are "banned", it is just your permit does not authorize you or "it is not illegal to carry". In other words, you can carry anywhere in MO, but if they search you, they can make you leave. Yes, this even applies to jails.

Therefore, "it is not illegal" so you can go into bars and restaurants in MO and even drink. You cannot be intoxicated (not defined) but everyone assumes it means DUI levels (0.08).

It is not "illegal" to carry into sporting events and arenas, but if they wand you or use a metal detector, they can make you leave. I have gone into many events w my glock. I just hold the door for the ladies and observe if they screen or not and then go back to my car.

The Missouri statutes are located at 571.101 et seq (the "not illegal to carry") sections are located at 571.107.
David goes on to say that Missouri has state preemption on most firearms laws including concealed carry. However, they do currently let municipalities regulate open carry and the City of St. Louis does ban open carry.

The State of Missouri does recognize all concealed carry permits from other states so you would be good to go with your out-of-state permit in Missouri.

That said, whether you choose to try and carry at the Annual Meeting location is up to you. You may be refused entrance to the America's Center and have to return to your car or hotel room to leave your firearm which would be a hassle.

UPDATE: Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned has a good post up on the constraints that the NRA has in choosing venues for their Annual Meeting. While we may want to have a CCW friendly location each and every time, it just isn't always possible if they are to meet some of their other requirements.


  1. It is easy for some to say that the NRA should not be having these HUGE conventions in arena's where their members are not welcome to display their love of the 2nd amendment. For those of you so inclined, I want to remind each of you that their are now only a handful of places in the country that can honestly handle something this size, so it limits the NRA options for choices.

  2. Missouri native and concealed carry licensee here: "Dirk Diggler" is correct in so far as "places" go, but there's a completely separate law outlawing guns in buses with a few exceptions like consent of the owner.

  3. It appears, unfortunately, that this is not likely to matter to me, because unless my back gets much better, very quickly, I won't be able to attend.

    Not happy.

  4. @Dannytheman: I think you've hit the nail on the head - it is hard to find venues large enough to handle 70,000 plus peoples and near large pockets of NRA members. Likewise, the SHOT Show is held in Las Vegas and (sometimes) Orlando as they are the venues that have enough exhibit space for so large a show.

    @hga: Thanks for the addition of the info on carry on buses.

    @Kurt: Damn! That sucks. I hope your back heals in time for the meeting. If not, I'll gather a bunch of stuff and drop it off to you.

  5. Here's a big hint about Saint Louis. Carry legally, don't be an idiot, and you will be fine. Saint Louis is NOT an anti-gun city like Chicago or New York.