Showdown in the Show-Me State: The Fight over Conceal-And-Carry Gun Laws in Missouri

Showdown in the Show-Me State: The Fight over Conceal-And-Carry Gun Laws in Missouri

Showdown in the Show-Me State: The Fight over Conceal-And-Carry Gun Laws in Missouri

Showdown in the Show-Me State: The Fight over Conceal-And-Carry Gun Laws in Missouri


When the Missouri state legislature overrode Governor Bob Holden's veto in 2003 to make conceal-and-carry the law of the land, the Show-Me State became one of the last in the country to adopt this type of law. In fact, it took years of concerted effort on the part of pro-gun advocates to make this a reality. In Showdown in the Show-Me State, William Horner chronicles this complex and fascinating fight in clear, chronological order beginning with the first bill introduced into the Missouri General Assembly in 1992 and ending with the state supreme court's decision in 2004 that Missouri's constitution permitted the legislature to grant Missourians the right to carry concealed weapons. There is, it is often argued, no state more typically "American" than Missouri. The state is closely divided along partisan lines, as is the nation as a whole, and in the previous century, Missouri voters have regularly chosen the winner in almost every presidential election. By offering an examination of guns and gun policy in Missouri, this book provides a glimpse into the hearts and minds of Missourians and, by extension, of mainstream America as well. Horner's in-depth case study details the give-and-take among legislators and examines the role that interest groups played in the evolution of this divisive issue. Horner's book-part policy analysis, part interest group study, and part history-will appeal to readers with an interest in the issue of gun control or in the political process, and it will provide a thorough resource for those who study policy making at the state level.


This book chronicles a complex and fascinating fight over the carrying of concealed weapons in Missouri. It is part public policy analysis, part interest group study, and part history. The concealed weapons issue has been fought in every public political arena—the legislature, the courts, and the ballot box. There are two hot-button issues that repeat themselves time and again in Missouri: gun control and abortion. Over the years, they have appeared in the legislature again and again. They are divisive issues that lead to down-and-dirty political fights which cut across party lines: there are Republicans who support gun control, and there are Democrats who oppose it. The biggest battle in the war over conceal-and-carry, fought in 2003, shone a bright light on obvious fissures within the Democratic party.

The complexity of the guns issue and the controversy surrounding it made the writing of this book very difficult. The chronology of events was a simple enough matter, but finding the details to flesh out the story was considerably more challenging. When asking politicians, interest group representatives, and others to speak to me about the issue, I was met with silence, as Rick Hardy, a very fine political scientist at the University of Missouri, predicted would happen. Nearly every request I made for personal interviews with the key players in this story went nowhere. On the rare occasion when someone said they would speak to me, I found myself worrying that including his or her direct input would unfairly bias the story I was trying to tell since the opposition did not want to speak to me.

Eventually, I decided to rely on secondary sources for the quotations I needed to flesh out the story. Fortunately, Missouri is a state with a rich journalistic tradition and many fine newspapers that make a strong effort to cover the machinations of Jefferson City, even in a time of increased conglomeration of media ownership and decreasing budgets. There are many truly excellent, dedicated reporters to whom I owe a tremendous debt for their fine reporting. I relied heavily on these journalists and their work product. Without these reporters who take joy in covering the capitol, much of what the state government does would be lost to the sands of time.

In writing this book, one of my primary goals was to remain as unbiased as possible. Taking a stand would have been exactly the opposite of what I wanted . . .

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