gun while drunk is now a felony
encourages police to send violations to his office
A little-noticed provision
of Missouris new law allowing people to carry
concealed weapons actually increases the penalty for
possession of a firearm while intoxicated. And Platte
County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd says his office will use
the new law to bring felony charges against people who
possess a gun while drunk.
One of the often-overlooked
changes contained in the concealed carry legislation
is that the punishment for the crime of possession of
a firearm while intoxicated has been increased from
a class B misdemeanor to a class D felony. Under the
new felony classification, possessing a firearm or other
projectile weapon while intoxicated can now result in
a punishment of up to four years in prison and/or a
fine of up to $5,000. Previously, the maximum sentence
was six months in the county jail or a fine of up to
Zahnd said in his opinion,
the increased punishment makes perfect sense.
Guns and alcohol
do not mix. Whether you support the concealed carry
law or not, this much is clear: those who possess firearms
must do so responsibly. Carrying a gun while you are
drinking is irresponsible, and it is a crime. My office
is committed to vigorously enforcing this new provision.
As part of his effort to
enforce the new law, Zahnd has asked Platte County law
enforcement agencies to send violations to his office
In the past,
Zahnd said, most of these charges were appropriately
handled at the municipal level because they were misdemeanors.
Now that this crime is a felony, we would like to prosecute
these cases in state court so we have the strongest
possible punishment available.
By increasing the
penalty for possession of a firearm while intoxicated,
the Missouri legislature is sending the message that
it wants those who carry a gun while drunk to face serious
consequences, Zahnd said.
People who plan to
drink should leave their gun at home.
The concealed weapons law
and the new penalty for possession of a firearm while
intoxicated became effective Oct. 11.