Guest Commentary

Missouri legislators should sustain veto of dangerous gun bill

Kansas City Mayor Sly James and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay support Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of Senate Bill 656, saying if the Missouri legislature overrides the veto this week, it will enable more people without needed training to legally have concealed guns on the street. That would jeopardize public safety.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay support Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of Senate Bill 656, saying if the Missouri legislature overrides the veto this week, it will enable more people without needed training to legally have concealed guns on the street. That would jeopardize public safety. Special to The Star

Here we are again. Another year of senseless gun violence that has claimed the lives of loved ones, friends and neighbors. Another year of burying innocent children who have died needlessly. Another year of excessive gun violence in our communities and streets.

Despite these troubling realities, Missouri legislators are positioning themselves to overturn Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of Senate Bill 656. That legislation is sure to contribute to the slow-motion mass murder of our neighbors.

The bill eliminates the need for people to secure a permit to acquire a firearm. That means that your son or daughter could obtain a firearm without a permit or the necessary training to operate that weapon properly before age 20.

No parent would feel comfortable allowing a son or daughter behind the wheel of a car without training or a license. Why should we not have the same standard for something as lethal as a gun?

Responsible gun owners who have taken the training required to obtain a concealed carry permit know the dangers of an amateur using a gun.

One of the more egregious aspects of this bill is that it keeps local sheriffs from restricting concealed carry permits to domestic violence offenders. Allowing them to obtain firearms has life-and-death implications for individuals in domestic violence situations.

This unreasonable restriction of sheriffs in the bill is unacceptable. Domestic violence has been increasing in Missouri.

In 2015, Kansas City saw the most dramatic spike in domestic violence-related homicides in years. More than 10 percent of the homicides were the result of domestic violence incidents. St. Louis also faces the same deadly trend.

In 2015, nearly 8 percent of the homicides were rooted in domestic violence disputes. Senate Bill 656 is a crippling piece of legislation that doesn’t take into consideration the needs of those on the front lines of ensuring our safety — law enforcement officers.

This legislation completely eliminates the power of local sheriffs to determine whether an individual has obtained a concealed carry permit.

Imagine being a police officer. You’ve identified a speeding vehicle. In the interests of public safety, you pull the car over and begin the normal procedural processes.

However, you notice that the system you’ve used year after year is missing one glaring piece of information — whether this individual has a concealed carry permit. You approach the car, not knowing whether the driver possesses a weapon.

This type of uncertainty only serves to increase the tension level and endanger the lives of those we trust with our safety.

The Missouri legislature should reconsider its decision to pass Senate Bill 656. We have to stop politicizing an issue that has claimed far too many lives.

Protecting the integrity of the Second Amendment doesn’t mean that we should readily accept watching our children, friends and neighbors die at the hands of those who likely should not have acquired a gun in the first place.

Please call or write your state legislators and tell them that Senate Bill 656 is detrimental to the safety of our law enforcement officers and potentially fatal to the lives of our friends, neighbors and children.

Sly James was sworn in as the 56th mayor of Kansas City on March 22, 2011. He was re-elected June 23, 2015.

Francis Slay has served as mayor of St. Louis since 2001. He was re-elected to a fourth term in 2013.

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