On the eve of the Missouri legislature’s veto session, Kansas City Mayor Sly James joined law enforcement and women’s advocates Tuesday in urging lawmakers not to relax the state’s concealed carry permit law.
James and others decried what they see as a “ludicrous and stupid” Senate Bill 656, which eliminates the need for training and a permit to carry a concealed firearm. At a press conference at the Rose Brooks domestic violence shelter, they said the bill allows someone with a domestic violence offense to carry a concealed gun, and stops local police and sheriffs from determining who should rightfully carry a concealed weapon.
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill but the Missouri General Assembly appears poised to override that veto at its annual veto session Wednesday. Republicans have 114 House members, and they need 109 to override. In the Senate, they have 23 members, the exact number needed to override.
In urging lawmakers to sustain the veto, James noted that the proliferation of guns is a huge public safety problem for the city, where homicides and domestic abuse are on the rise this year. “This bill is a like a person who has been diagnosed with lung cancer deciding on that day to go out and become a chain smoker and lighting up packs of cigarettes every day,” he said. “It’s fueling the problem. It’s not making it any better.”
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He said eliminating the background check requirement could allow someone with a domestic violence offense to carry a concealed weapon, with “life and death implications.”
Susan Miller, CEO of the Rose Brooks Center, said the shelter provides services to more than 15,000 women and children every year.
“We hear from domestic violence survivors every day, how guns are used to threaten them,” Miller said. “It is dangerous and foolish to allow those that have been violent to families to conceal weapons.”
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said no one in the legislature has been able to explain how the bill makes people safer. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp said people who obtain concealed carry permits benefit from the training about gun ownership that goes along with that. Eliminating the permit and training, he said, endangers law enforcement officers, because they would have no way of knowing if someone is carrying a concealed weapon, and is a “bad bad bill.”
The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund has launched a digital ad urging Missourians to support the bill, arguing that the right to self-defense is fundamental, and the bill allows individuals ages 19 or older to determine how they will defend themselves if the need arises.
But support from some Republicans may be wavering now that local police chiefs and sheriffs are voicing opposition. The Southeast Missourian reported that Cape Girardeau County’s two Republican state representatives, Kathy Swan and Donna Lichtenegger, had voted for the bill but now have some reservations because of law enforcement’s opposition.
Sheriffs and police chiefs argue that the training and permit requirements to carry a concealed weapon are common sense safeguards and do not infringe on Second Amendment gun rights.
At the news conference, Kyle Boyer, who with his wife owns Alpha Protection, which provides firearms training and concealed carry classes, said he’s seen countless students who don’t have a proper grip on their gun, have lack of muzzle awareness, and miss their targets from seven yards away. He said the training sessions provide vital education about firearms safety, gun storage, defensive situations during a home invasion, how to interact with police officers to keep everyone safe, and use-of-force laws.
“This is a bad bill,” Boyer said. “Our lawmakers need to turn their backs on it.”
Jason Hancock contributed to this report.