The Buzz

Gun-control group releases poll hoping to sway Missouri Republicans

A bill eliminating training and permit requirements to carry a concealed firearm was vetoed by Missouri’s governor.
A bill eliminating training and permit requirements to carry a concealed firearm was vetoed by Missouri’s governor. File photo

A national gun-control group released a poll Wednesday that it hopes will persuade Missouri lawmakers to sustain Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill eliminating training and permit requirements to carry a concealed firearm.

In June, Nixon vetoed a bill that would allow someone to legally carry a concealed weapon in public without completing a gun safety training class or passing a criminal background check performed by the local sheriff.

Both are required under current law.

Missouri lawmakers return to Jefferson City on Sept. 14 to consider whether to override Nixon’s veto.

The Survey USA poll, commissioned by New York-based Everytown for Gun Safety, surveyed 371 likely voters in Missouri Senate District 17, which encompasses a swath of Clay County from North Kansas City to Liberty.

It found 85 percent support for requiring all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check and 91 percent support for requiring a permit to carry concealed handguns in public, with a margin of error of 5.1 percentage points.

The district is represented by Ryan Silvey, a Republican from Kansas City who is considered a moderate and is running for re-election this November. He voted in favor of the bill when it cleared the Senate in the final hours of the 2016 legislative session, and told The Star Wednesday that his stance hasn’t changed.

“I don’t really believe that poll,” he said. “The reason it doesn’t hold a lot of weight with me is that the actual constituency contacts I’m getting are two to one in favor of overriding the governor’s veto. That’s what my constituents are telling me. I expect it to be overridden.”

Silvey said in weighing the bill he looked to other states that have approved similar legislation, including Kansas. He said he hasn’t seen a huge uptick in gun-related crime in those states.

“I wouldn’t make the argument it will make us safer,” he said of the legislation, “but I can make the argument it doesn’t make us less safe.”

In addition to doing away with conceal-carry permit requirements, the wide-ranging gun bill would implement a “stand your ground” law, which says people no longer have a duty to try to retreat before using lethal force if they think their life is in danger.

Becky Morgan, leader of the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action, said she’s disappointed with Silvey’s decision to support the gun legislation.

She called the bill “dangerous and reckless” and said it would “contribute to a shoot first culture.” Her group, which is affiliated with Everytown for Gun Safety, has been “mobilizing people across the state, but also in (Sen. Silvey’s) district as well.”

The bill also would expand the castle doctrine to permit invited guests in a home to use deadly force on intruders. And for those who still want to get a concealed-carry permit, the bill creates a lifetime version that never expires.

Nixon vetoed the bill because he said it would allow “individuals to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they have been or would be denied a permit because their background check revealed criminal offenses or caused the sheriff to believe they posed a danger.”

Joining him in opposing the bill are the Missouri Police Chiefs Association and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. The state’s four Catholic bishops also spoke out against the bill.

In addition to the polling, Everytown for Gun Safety is running ads in a handful of newspapers across the state in the coming weeks quoting the past president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police warning that the bill would be “extremely dangerous to law enforcement officers.”

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock