This piece was written by Jessica Risenhoover, a Moms Demand Action volunteer
We are told that more guns in more places will make us safer. Yet Missouri has some of the loosest gun laws in the country and has among the highest per-capita rates of gun deaths. This isn’t just a St. Louis or Kansas City problem. The rural areas of our state are also impacted by gun violence. Whether it’s a suicide or homicide by gun, the loss of life is no less devastating for the family and friends of the victim. While it is the mass shootings, as collective American tragedies, that garner the most attention from the media and the public, the death of each of the 96 Americans who die from gunshot wounds each day is a tragedy for that family and that community.
Prior to 2007, when our legislature repealed permit-to-purchase, Missouri had reasonable and sensible gun laws. With permit-to-purchase, anyone wanting to purchase a gun was required to have a permit that included a criminal background check and training. After the repeal of permit-to-purchase, Missouri saw a 23 percent increase in firearm homicides (but not other types of homicides), among other increases in firearm crimes.
After the passage of Senate Bill 656 in 2016 (and the subsequent veto override), anyone in Missouri can carry concealed or open in our public spaces with no training and no permit. The legislature has even reduced the penalty for carrying in a prohibited area from a felony to a misdemeanor. We also do not have state laws restricting domestic abusers from owning guns, instead relying solely on Federal Legislation which has the “boyfriend” loophole.
Police also do not have the means to remove guns once a person is convicted of domestic abuse. And because Missouri only requires background checks on guns purchased from Federally licensed dealers, it is incredibly easy for anyone to buy a gun with no criminal background check whatsoever via private sale from an individual or hobbyist.
Now Missouri House Representative Jared Taylor has introduced Missouri House Bill 1936. This bill would allow guns in daycares, churches, bars, private k-12 schools, and our public universities. There appears to be no end to how far some of our elected officials are willing to go to cater to the minority of citizens who want guns on everyone, everywhere and with no restrictions or consequences.
The reality is that all Constitutional rights are subject to reasonable regulations. Criminal background checks on ALL gun sales, restricting the gun rights of dangerous criminals, training, permits and restrictions on when/where a person may carry in our public spaces have all been deemed as reasonable and Constitutional. And the vast majority of Americans—and Missourians–support common sense gun laws designed to keep our families safe.
It is time for all Missourians to stand up and let the legislature know that we reject HB 1936 and instead want common-sense gun laws. I also encourage anyone no longer willing to accept gun violence as an unavoidable inevitability to join Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. We are a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that supports the Second Amendment and is welcoming to anyone who wants legislative change.