No one can claim that Missouri lawmakers failed to respond to the massacre in Parkland, Florida.
But they have so far failed in how they’ve responded.
But in Jefferson City, they’re doing Washington, D.C., one better.
In the nation’s capital, they appear poised not to even try to do anything about gun violence right now. Well, not us; in Missouri, lawmakers are moving to make a state with few limitations on gun rights an even more regulation-free zone.
Before you could say “frontier justice,” they voted out of committee a handful of bills that would expand the already long list of where Missourians can carry concealed firearms.
And they voted down bills that would have required background checks and repealed certain provisions of the sweeping 2016 law on concealed carry without a permit.
It’s not too late to pass the identical bills sponsored by Republican Rep. Donna Lichtenegger and Democrat Tracy McCreery that would make it more difficult for domestic abusers to have guns. In fact, to put that another way, it’s too late not to pass them. Already, it’s been two years since lawmakers did away with protection for domestic violence victims.
Lichtenegger calls herself “a proud lifetime member of the NRA,” then adds, “but we also have to show we’re responsible gun owners.” She has spoken with her colleagues about her own childhood experience of watching her father beat her mother, “and people have to know how hard it is to get a divorce from these guys.” She expects her bill to get a vote in committee this week. And its chance of becoming law this year? “It’s not hopeless,” she said, though it’s unlikely to pass as a stand-alone bill this late in the session.
Since a history of domestic violence is so common among mass shooters, and 54 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2014 also involved the killing of a partner or family member, this should be something lawmakers could agree on, accomplish and feel good about. But “believe it or not, there probably are some that would oppose it,” said Lichtenegger. Last year, an effort to close the loophole for domestic abusers failed.
Among the gun measures that have moved forward in Jefferson City since the Parkland tragedy are bills that would limit the use of firearm tracking technology and that would allow guns to be transported in cars.
In their ongoing effort to limit local government, Missouri state lawmakers also want to keep municipalities from regulating open carry. And they voted to further expand all of those places where Missourians can bring concealed guns — adding child care centers, government buildings, bars, churches, stadiums, hospitals, college campuses and more.
Rep. Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat whose bill on background checks was voted down, said his colleagues “stood on the floor and talked about how awful” Parkland was, and “said ‘thoughts and prayers,’ but obviously it did not have an effect on their agenda” even if what he thought he saw on their faces was the desire to vote differently. “So either my bill got voted down because I have a ‘D’ behind my name or because they are terrified of the National Rifle Association.”
Even an amendment that would have banned bump stocks was voted down, but not Republican Rep. Jered Taylor’s bill that concealed-carry permit holders who are at least 19 years old should be allowed to carry arms on campus.
Yes, where heavy drinking and mental health issues are major problems. Taylor cited campus rape as a reason that students should be allowed to arm themselves. While we appreciate his acknowledgment of campus assaults, that’s just one more argument against allowing abusers to carry arms, there or anywhere.