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Is it legal to bring a firearm to a restaurant?

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Missouri might allow gun owners to carry their firearms without needing a permit, but the state still restricts where a person can bring their guns. Some restricted areas make sense, such as police stations, prisons, courthouses and local government offices. But the restrictions in some places can be unclear, such as restaurants.

State law on bringing firearms to restaurants

Generally speaking, gun owners can bring their firearms to a restaurant with dining facilities for at least 50 persons for as long as more than half of the restaurant’s gross annual income (at least 51%) is from the sale of food. This may sound like an arbitrary figure, but this distinction is essential because Missouri law prohibits gun owners from bringing their weapons into any establishment primarily licensed to sell liquor without the consent of the bar owner. Officers could cite gun owners for a weapons offense if flagged at a restaurant that makes most of its money from selling beer or wine.

Even if a person has a concealed carry permit, they’re not allowed to bring the gun into an establishment whose primary source of income is liquor sales.

However, the law doesn’t prohibit a gun owner from bringing a firearm stored in a vehicle on the establishment’s premises (such as a parking lot) for as long as the gun owner doesn’t remove the weapon from storage.

Penalties for bringing guns to a liquor-serving establishment

If a gun owner with a concealed carry permit is flagged for bringing their firearm to a bar or bar-like establishment, they won’t immediately face criminal charges. However, the establishment can forbid entrance or remove them from the premises, per the law’s provisions. If the gun owner refuses to leave and the establishment calls for an officer, the gun owner could be issued a citation, with a maximum fine of $100 for the first offense.

Should a gun owner get a second citation for the same violation within six months, they will face a maximum $200 fine. Gun owners will also have their concealed carry permits and endorsements suspended for a year as part of the penalties.

If they get a third citation within a year of the first, authorities can fine gun owners a maximum of $500 and have their concealed carry permit or endorsement revoked. In addition, they’ll be unable to apply for a new concealed carry permit for three years.

Facing a weapons charge for bringing a gun to a restaurant can be a frustrating experience, especially if you didn’t know beforehand that the establishment fell under the state law’s list of prohibited areas. If you face these penalties, consider seeking help from an attorney to challenge the charges in court.