Missouri is among the top states for youth firearm fatality rates (Figure 1; KFF 2020). Between 2018-2021, firearms and suffocation were the top causes of injury-related death among youth under 18 (9.9% and 9.7% of all youth deaths respectively; CDC WONDER).
In CO and IA, more rural youth reported easy access to firearms than those in urban areas, with the majority of rural youth reporting access to an unsecured firearm in their homes (Spark 2021; Jennissen 2021).
Under federal law, one must be at least 18 years old to buy a long gun and 21 years old to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer. Dealers are federally licensed and follow federal statutes.
MO law states that “federal laws deemed infringements of United State and Missouri Constitutions… [such as] any act forbidding the possession, ownership, use, or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition by law-abiding citizens…” will not be enforced.
MO law allows firearms to be sold or given to a minor with parent consent, excluding people who cannot legally possess a firearm- fugitives from justice and those who are convicted of a felony, regularly intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, or judged to be mentally in-competent (RSMo 571.070).
MO does not require a permit to carry a concealed firearm. However, open carry requires a valid concealed carry permit (RSMo 571.037).
Limits to youth firearm access such as secure firearm storage and minimum age requirements can reduce gun violence among young people (RAND).
There is some evidence that policies such as dealer background checks, purchaser waiting periods, firearm surrender, and prohibitions of firearm possession for select offenders lower homicide rates (RAND).
Shall-issue laws, where a permit must be given if the applicant meets the standards set in law, and ‘stand-your-ground’ laws increase firearm homicides (RAND 2023).
Read our Science Note on Secure Firearm Storage for more on the relationship between firearm storage and firearm deaths.
Azad HA, Monuteaux MC, Rees CA, Siegel M, Mannix R, Lee LK, Sheehan KM, Fleegler EW. Child Access Prevention Firearm Laws and Firearm Fatalities Among Children Aged 0 to 14 Years, 1991-2016. JAMA Pediatr. 2020 May 1;174(5):463-469. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.6227. PMID: 32119063; PMCID: PMC7052788.
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives . (2020, January). Q&A. Retrieved from ATF: https://www.atf.gov/firearms/qa/may-parent-or-guardian-purchase-firearms-or-ammunition-gift-juvenile-less-18-years-age
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics System, Mortality 2018-2021 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released in 2021. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 2018-2021, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10-expanded.html on Feb 20, 2023
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Jennissen CA, Wetjen KM, Wymore CC, Stange NR, Denning GM, Liao J, Wood KE. Firearm Exposure and Storage Practices in the Homes of Rural Adolescents. West J Emerg Med. 2021 May 19;22(3):498-509. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2021.3.50263. PMID: 34125019; PMCID: PMC8202998.
KFF. (2020). Deaths Due to Firearms by Age. Retrieved from State Health Facts: https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/deaths-due-to-firearms-by-age/
Kappelman J, Fording RC. The effect of state gun laws on youth suicide by firearm: 1981-2017. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2021 Apr;51(2):368-377. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12713. PMID: 33876479.
Kivisto, A. J., Kivisto, K. L., Gurnell, E., Phalen, P., & Ray, B. (2021). Adolescent suicide, household firearm ownership, and the effects of child access prevention laws. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 60(9), 1096-1104.
Knopov A, Siegel M, Xuan Z, Rothman EF, Cronin SW, Hemenway D. The Impact of State Firearm Laws on Homicide Rates among Black and White Populations in the United States, 1991-2016. Health Soc Work. 2019 Oct 17;44(4):232-240. doi: 10.1093/hsw/hlz024. PMID: 31665302.
Missouri Department of Conservation. (n.d.). Permit Exemptions. Retrieved from Missouri Department of Conservation: https://mdc.mo.gov/permits/permit-exemptions
RAND. (2023, January 10). Effects of Child-Access Prevention Laws on Violent Crime. Retrieved from Gun Policy in America: https://www.rand.org/research/gun-policy/analysis/child-access-prevention/violent-crime.html
RAND. (2023, January 10). Effects of Concealed-Carry Laws on Violent Crime. Retrieved from Gun Policy in America: https://www.rand.org/research/gun-policy/analysis/concealed-carry/violent-crime.html
RAND. (n.d.). Gun Policy in America. Retrieved from RAND Corporation: https://www.rand.org/research/gun-policy.html
Revisor of Missouri. (n.d.). Title XXXVIII Crimes and Punishment; Peace Officers and Public Defenders . Retrieved from Revisor of Missouri: https://revisor.mo.gov/main/OneChapter.aspx?chapter=571
Spark TL, Wright-Kelly E, Ma M, James KA, Reid CE, Brooks-Russell A. Assessment of Rural-Urban and Geospatial Differences in Perceived Handgun Access and Reported Suicidality Among Youth in Colorado. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Oct 1;4(10):e2127816. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.27816. PMID: 34623407; PMCID: PMC8501400.
Webster, D., Crifasi, C.K. & Vernick, J.S. Effects of the Repeal of Missouri’s Handgun Purchaser Licensing Law on Homicides. J Urban Health 91, 293–302 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-014-9865-8