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Legal Information: Missouri

Missouri State Gun Laws

State Gun Laws

This section has information about who is prohibited from having a gun under Missouri state gun laws. However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply. To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. Go to the MO Places that Help page to find domestic violence organizations and legal help in your area.

Basic Info and Definitions

What is the difference between federal and state gun laws?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both “federal gun laws” and “state gun laws.” The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself. Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws. Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well. You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws. Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor. If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor). For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun? If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

What is the definition of a felony?

Throughout these gun law pages, we will refer to gun laws that make it illegal for someone convicted of a felony to have a gun. A felony is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor. In Missouri, a felony is a crime that is punishable by death or imprisonment of one year or more or a crime that is listed as a “felony” in the law.1

However, you cannot always tell if someone was convicted of a felony only by looking at the amount of time s/he actually served in prison since sentences are often reduced or pled down. If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a felony, you might want to talk to the prosecutor who handled the criminal case against the abuser to find out or go to the courthouse and search the conviction records.

1 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 556.061(26)

I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Missouri state law says that a person cannot have or buy a gun if s/he:

  • has been convicted of a felony in Missouri, or convicted of a crime in another state that would be a felony if it were committed in Missouri;
  • is a fugitive from justice;
  • is habitually intoxicated with alcohol or other substances; or
  • is declared mentally incompetent by a judge.1

Note: The gun restriction for people who have committed a felony may not apply to antique firearms, which is defined as a firearm manufactured in or before 1898.2

Missouri law does not specifically grant judges the ability to order that an abuser is not allowed to have or buy a gun in a final order of protection. However, the law does say that a final order can include terms that a judge thinks are needed to keep a victim safe.3 Therefore, if you plan to file for an order of protection, you may want to be sure to specifically ask the judge to include as a term of the order that the abuser cannot have firearms in order to keep you safe. It will be up to the judge whether or not to include this.

If any of these situations apply to the abuser, it may be illegal for him/her to have a gun. Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, may restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.070.1
2 Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 571.070.3; 571.010(1)
3 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 455.050.1

Guns and Orders of Protection

I have a temporary order against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away?

Missouri law tells a judge what protections s/he is allowed to grant someone in a temporary order of protection. Restricting an abuser’s access to have or buy a gun is not included in the list of protections that can be granted in a temporary order.1

1 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 455.045

I have an order of protection against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

Missouri law does not specifically grant judges the ability to order that an abuser is not allowed to have or buy a gun in a final order of protection. However, the law does say that a final order can include terms that a judge thinks are needed to keep a victim safe.1

However, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict a person’s right to have a gun under certain circumstances, including when there is an order of protection that was issued after notice to the abuser and a hearing. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 455.050.1

Guns and Criminal Convictions

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

Missouri state law says that a person cannot have or buy a gun if s/he:

  • has been convicted of a felony in Missouri, or convicted of a crime in another state that would be a felony if it were committed in Missouri; or
  • is a fugitive from justice.1

Note: The gun restriction for people who have committed a felony may not apply to antique firearms, which is defined as a firearm manufactured in or before 1898.2

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, may restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.070.1
2 Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 571.070.3; 571.010(1)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so

To read more about the NICS, please see What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

The Abuser Isn't Supposed to Have a Gun...Now What?

If the abuser's gun is taken away, what will happen to it?

Under Missouri law, when a person is convicted of a felony, a court can also order that his/her guns be taken away. The guns will then be given to a licensed firearms dealer or back to the lawful owner if the guns do not belong to the convicted person. If the guns are given to a licensed firearm dealer, they will be sold and the proceeds will be given to law enforcement.1

1 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.095

Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the State Police. If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our MO Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Missouri on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer.

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our MO Advocates and Shelters page.

Note: Generally, a person does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for violating the law. If the abuser has a gun or buys a gun in violation of the law, s/he can be arrested, whether or the abuser knows s/he was in violation of the law.1

1United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

What is the penalty for violating the firearm laws?

In Missouri, unlawful possession of a firearm is a class D felony.1 A class D felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000,2 by imprisonment of up to four years,3 or both.4

1 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.070.2
2 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 558.002.1(1)
3 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 558.011.1(4)
4 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 557.011.2

What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by federal firearms licensees (FFLs), such as firearms dealers or pawnbrokers, to instantly determine whether someone is eligible to receive (own, possess, transport) firearms or explosives.1 If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from legally buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system. Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales and so in those situations, the seller is not looking in the NICS.

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

1National Criminal Justice Reference Service website

More Information and Where to Get Help

I do not have an order of protection against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of any crime. Can s/he have a gun?

Even if you do not have an order of protection against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a crime, Missouri state laws make it illegal to have a gun in a few other circumstances. Missouri state law says that a person cannot have or buy a gun if s/he:

  • is a fugitive from justice;
  • is habitually intoxicated with alcohol or other substances; or
  • is declared mentally incompetent by a judge.1

If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety. See our Safety Tips page for more information. You can also contact a local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety. See our MO Advocates and Shelters page to find a local domestic violence organization near you.

For additional information on gun laws in Missouri, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.

1 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.070.1

I've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can also contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about how firearm laws apply to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2.
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area - see our MO Advocates and Shelters page.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.