In 2007, Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase handgun licensing law, which had, since 1921, required all handgun purchasers to undergo a background check and obtain a license in order to lawfully purchase a handgun from any seller.   This change eliminated mandatory background checks for handguns sold by private sellers in the state of Missouri.

Johns Hopkins researchers determined that repeal of Missouri’s background check requirement was linked to a 14% increase in Missouri’s murder rate through 2012 and a 25% percent increase in firearm homicide rates.1 In tragic human terms, this means the law’s repeal translated into an additional 49 to 68 murders every year.2  This spike in murders in Missouri only occurred for murders committed with a firearm and was widespread across the state’s counties.3  In contrast, none of the states bordering Missouri experienced significant increases in murder rates, and the U.S. murder rate actually declined during by over five percent.4

Additionally, immediately following the repeal of Missouri’s background check law, there was a two-fold increase in the percentage of guns recovered at Missouri crime scenes within two years of their retail sale.5 After the law was repealed, there was also a sharp increase in the percentage of crime guns recovered by police in Missouri that were originally purchased in that state.6

  1. Daniel Webster, Cassandra Kercher Crifasi, and Jon S. Vernick, Erratum to: Effects of the Repeal of Missouri’s Handgun Purchaser Licensing Law on Homicides, 3 Journal of Urban Health 91, (June 2014). ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Id. ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎