All four Republican candidates for Missouri governor said Wednesday night that they’d have signed a bill eliminating training requirements for carrying a concealed firearm and establishing a so-called “stand your ground” law.
Businessman John Brunner, former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, former Missouri House speaker Catherine Hanaway and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder shared the stage Wednesday in a debate moderated by KMOV-TV in St. Louis, KCTV in Kansas City and The Kansas City Star.
The first half of the debate focused on gun laws, last week’s police shootings and unrest in recent years both in Ferguson and on the Columbia campus of the University of Missouri.
Each candidate panned Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s response to the unrest in Ferguson, saying he failed to build relationships in the community that could have staved off the violence that followed the shooting death of Michael Brown at the hands of a while police officer.
Kinder said healing these wounds will take “a governor who has the relationships in these communities that I’ve spent years building.”
Both Hanaway and Greitens said they would have established a curfew in Ferguson much sooner than Nixon eventually did.
But Hanaway went a step further, pledging her support for police body cameras, an idea that has run into resistance in the Republican-dominated Missouri Legislature for several years.
On the subject of the University of Missouri, and the protest that gripped the campus last year, Brunner called for the “lame duck” board of curators appointed by Nixon to stop their search for a new university president and wait for the next governor to appoint a new board.
“The number one problem is leadership,” Brunner said. “That was the problem in Ferguson, that’s the problem at the University of Missouri.”
Hanaway joined the lawmakers who have called for the revocation of scholarships of Mizzou football players who went on strike last year in protest of how several racist incidents were handled on campus.
If you are given a scholarship to play football, she said, “you should play football.”
On the subject of guns, Kinder said he’s long been a champion of 2nd Amendment rights, and argued that if any of his Republican opponents win the nomination that Democrat Chris Koster will win the endorsement of the NRA this fall.
Koster, Missouri’s attorney general and the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, won the NRA endorsement in 2012 and has also said he would have signed the bill removing training requirements for concealed carry of a firearm.
Wednesday’s debate was a largely civil affair, with most of the fireworks left until the very end.
Greitens accused Brunner of being behind an anonymous video attacking his military service. After first joking the allegation off, Brunner closed the debate by denying the charge and attacking Greitens for accepting $1 million in donations from a California businessman who’s accused of keeping a woman as a sex slave for 13 years.
Greitens repeatedly noted that he was the only candidate in the race who has never run for office before, arguing that he is the only candidate who will take on a “failed status quo” in Missouri’s government.
Republican voters will chose one of the four to be their nominee for governor on Aug. 2.