Amid the rising number of Americans licensed to carry a concealed handgun, more states are passing laws that don’t require a permit to carry firearms, embracing the view that self-defense is a “natural born” right.

Missouri became the fourth state this year to approve a so-called “constitutional carry” law when Republican legislators overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on Sept. 15, making permitless carry legal. West Virginia, Mississippi and Idaho also have adopted constitutional carry laws in 2016, bringing the total number of such states to 12.

“States that focus on freedom realize that if self-defense truly is a natural-born right, and the Second Amendment truly affirms that natural-born right, you shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to exercise it,” said Tim Schmidt, president of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association in West Bend, Wisconsin. “Kind of like you don’t have to ask the government to exercise the First Amendment.”

Missouri’s law specifies 17 places where people can’t carry guns, including churches, airports, sports arenas, courthouses, liquor stores, schools, hospitals and polling places on Election Day. It will take effect Jan. 1.

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