State lawmakers from Kansas and Missouri announced a bistate, bipartisan effort Friday to reduce gun violence.
Kansas Rep. Barbara Bollier joined Missouri Rep. Stacey Newman to pitch bills, recently introduced in Topeka and Jefferson City, that would establish firearms restrictions for people with domestic violence or stalking restraining orders or convictions.
“The public gets it completely,” said Bollier, a Republican from Mission Hills. A former practicing physician, Bollier described gun violence as “a public health issue.”
Newman, a Democrat from Richmond Heights in St. Louis County, said her bill includes language that would allow law enforcement and family members to restrict those considered “in crisis” from gun possession. That measure, she said, is similar to California legislation signed into law soon after the shootings near the University of California-Santa Barbara campus last year.
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Both legislators were realistic about their bills’ prospects.
“Our state tends to be very pro-gun,” said Bollier, who added, “I am the eternal optimist.”
Missouri representatives who are strong gun rights advocates said Newman’s bill is unlikely to get a warm reception in Jefferson City.
Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, a Carrollton Republican, described the bill as “patently unconstitutional” because it has too few protections for gun owners before a court strips them of their Second Amendment rights.
“Everyone wants to keep firearms out of the hands of someone who is not competent to own them,” McGaugh said. “But I think what we should concentrate on is the individual and not the gun. Missouri law already allows those who are threats to be committed for mental health issues.”
Rep. Rick Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican, said the bill is unlikely to get a hearing. He said that because the bill allows “any person” to file a petition for a gun violence restraining order, it could be used to harass law-abiding gun owners.
“We would never look at anything like this,” Brattin said. “We’re not in favor of domestic violence, but with our (concealed carry) permits, someone may not like the fact that you’re carrying a weapon and say they feel they’re being threatened.”
Brattin said he viewed the legislation as a “political stunt” with no chance of passage.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who introduced the two lawmakers at the Jackson County Courthouse, described the legislation as “one more tool” that could be available to law enforcement and prosecutors.
“We are always looking for ways to be proactive,” Baker said.
The representatives were joined by a small crowd that included representatives from the Hope House and Rose Brooks domestic violence shelters, the League of Women Voters, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, the Kansas City Health Commission and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.