Editorials

Missouri bill would allow guns in bars, churches, day cares. What could possibly go wrong?

Star file photo

Guns are almost everywhere in Missouri. But almost isn’t good enough for some lawmakers who think that easing restrictions on guns in child care facilities, bars and churches, among other places, is a wise idea.

What could possibly go wrong?

Republican state Rep. Jered Taylor’s “guns everywhere” bill would lift restrictions on a conceal carry law that prohibits weapons in private businesses and public institutions such as universities or polling places.

Businesses currently must give customers permission to carry concealed weapons. Under the proposed measure, weapons would automatically be allowed in businesses unless owners chose to ban them.

Helpfully, a state lawmaker’s allegedly tipsy, gun-toting staff member has inadvertently provided a strong argument against the proposal.

Jared Brown, the chief of staff to Republican state Sen. Justin Brown, was arrested by Jefferson City police last week on suspicion of unlawful use of a weapon and use of a loaded weapon while intoxicated after a bar fight.

Brown told officers his loaded 9mm Ruger fell to the floor during the fracas. Police said he was visibly intoxicated.

“I wish my gun was closer — I woulda used it,” Brown allegedly told police.

Do we even need to say that overserved bar patrons and loaded weapons are a dangerous combination? And allowing guns in government buildings and day care facilities does nothing to improve public safety.

In 2013, a legislative assistant to then-House Speaker Tim Jones left a loaded 9mm pistol in a public restroom in the Capitol. The Republican’s aide resigned.

If lawmakers’ aides can’t handle guns responsibly, imagine an inquisitive child getting their hands on one inside a child care center. The potential for harm is too great. Guns don’t belong in churches, bars, government buildings, child care facilities or on college campuses.

“Adding more guns to the gun issue doesn’t seem to be the answer,” said Matt Sain, a Democratic state representative from Kansas City.

Proponents have argued that victims of mass shootings are defenseless targets. But public mass shootings account for a tiny fraction of the country’s gun deaths. In Missouri, exactly zero mass shooting incidents have occurred so far in 2019.

Besides, vigilante-style justice has never been an effective approach for reducing violence. Neither has a Wild West-style shootout between the perpetrator of a crime and bystanders with weapons.

“There is no need to fight fire with fire,” Sain said. “That only leads to more deaths.”

Missouri’s lenient gun laws have resulted in an increase in gun violence throughout the state. Permitting weapons in public buildings and private businesses would only add to the body count.

Proponents of this proposal believe the world is better off with guns everywhere. There’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Too many of the state’s gun-loving lawmakers seem impervious to the toll that gun violence has taken on our communities. The “guns everywhere” measure is a dangerous proposition that should go nowhere in the Missouri General Assembly.

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