JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri became the 45th state in the nation to allow most of its citizens the right to carry a concealed handgun after state lawmakers overrode Gov. Bob Holden’s veto of an earlier bill.

The House voted Wednesday 115-45 to override, with the Senate narrowly following suit Thursday. The upper chamber’s 23-10 vote barely cleared the two-thirds majority necessary to override gubernatorial vetoes.

The deciding Senate vote was cast by Sen. John Dolan, an Army public affairs officer, after he received special leave from his post at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was granted the last-minute request so he could attend the veto session here.

Holden, a Democrat, voiced disappointment in the vote, calling it an “unfortunate day” for Missourians who had worked hard to protect their children from gun violence.

“I stood for the things I believe in, and I’ll stand for them every day,” he said.

Republicans countered that the vetoes show Holden is out of touch with ordinary Missourians.

“It’s been a historic day. It’s a reassertion of the vast middle mainstream of Missouri against this governor who has adopted a series of extremist positions,” said Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau.

Under the new law, persons 23 years of age and older can apply to their local sheriff’s department for a concealed carry permit. Before being licensed, applicants must complete firearms marksmanship and safety training, among other requirements. Holders will not be permitted to carry guns into churches, schools, day care centers or police stations.

In 1999 voters narrowly rejected a ballot initiative to allow concealed carry of handguns. Most of those voting against the measure lived in urban centers, but the overwhelming majority of the state’s rural enclaves voted for the measure.

In another gun-related issue, the Senate voted 23-10 Thursday to override Holden’s veto of a bill that forbids Missouri governments from suing gun manufacturers. That bill went yesterday to the House, which is also expected to vote to override.

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