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Man With Expunged Felony Is Eligible For A Gun Permit, Missouri Appeals Court Says

Guns at Frontier Justice in Lee's Summit, Missouri.
Chris Haxel
KCUR 89.3
The Missouri Court of Appeals ruled a man who had his felony expunged is not automatically barred from obtianing a concealed carry permit.

A Missouri man who had a felony conviction expunged should get another chance to receive a permit to carry a concealed firearm, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

A three-judge panel found that the Platte County Sheriff’s Office should not have rejected the man’s permit application simply because he pleaded guilty to a felony in 1991.

The man, who is  identified only by the initials R.F. in court records, successfully applied to have his conviction expunged in 2018, the same year Missouri expanded its list of offenses eligible for expungement.

R.F. then applied for a concealed carry permit. When the office of Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen denied his request, he appealed. When his request was rejected again, he sued.

A Platte County judge ruled in his favor, and the appeals court ruling affirmed the lower court’s decision.

“An expunged guilty plea or conviction will not, on its own, disqualify an applicant for a concealed carry permit,” the panel wrote. “But that offense, and the facts and circumstances underlying that offense, could be relevant in determining an applicant’s suitability to be issued a permit.”

Attorney John Krebbs, who represents R.F., declined to identify his client but told KCUR the man is “just an average guy that is hardworking and kept his nose clean (after his conviction).”

R.F.’s identity was withheld from court records because the proceedings pertain to a felony conviction that has been expunged. According to the appeals court’s decision, he pleaded guilty to attempted stealing in 1991. He was given a suspended sentence and successfully completed probation in 1996.

“I thought it was an open and shut case,” Krebbs said. “But I think the sheriff didn’t want to have a precedent set, so they took it up just testing what the courts would do.”

Missouri’s current permitless carry law went into effect in 2017. 

Although the state does not require a permit for otherwise law-abiding gun owners to carry concealed firearms, the permits enable Missouri residents to carry concealed firearms in other states that offer reciprocity.

The Platte County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Krebbs, however, doubts the sheriff will appeal the appeals court's ruling.

“Before I got the opinion, my client called and said the sheriff just called him and said, ‘Come up and get your permit,’" Krebbs said. 

Chris Haxel is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email him at chaxel@kcur.org, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisHaxel.

As a reporter covering military and veterans’ affairs, I tell the stories of current and former service members and their families. I hold the government, elected officials and others responsible when they break their promises. And I explore how Americans can best uphold our commitments to those who serve.
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