COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Lawmakers are discussing plans for keeping firearms out of the hands people convicted of domestic violence following the passage of a law that allows Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
The law, passed in September through a gubernatorial veto override, has raised concerns that law enforcement officers will no longer be able to use the permitting process to ensure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands. The law takes effect Jan. 1, the Columbia Missourian reports.
One effort expected to be made during the upcoming session would focus on making Missouri law mirror a federal law that bars gun ownership for people convicted of domestic violence as well as those subject to a restraining order. Gun law enforcement often is handled at the state level.
“We know there’s very clear research and evidence that, when you introduce firearms into already dangerous domestic violence situations, it can quickly become lethal,” said Colleen Coble, CEO of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, which has been encouraging legislators to replicate the federal law’s language in state statutes for years.
Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, said she voted for the gun legislation, although she said there are “definitely places I would like to see fixed.” She said a National Rifle Association lobbyist approached her the night before the veto session to let her know legislators needed to make changes in the new year to stop domestic abusers from obtaining guns and that he was already working on the language for new legislation.
Swan said, ideally, the issue could have been resolved at the veto session itself, but it was too late to reverse her Republican colleagues’ momentum.
“You have to change things when you have the opportunity to change them,” Swan said.
Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Cape Girardeau, is working alongside Swan, Coble, and others to shore up state gun legislation. She said she and other representatives understand the importance of moving potential changes through the General Assembly quickly so the existing loophole is closed as soon as possible.
Under the permit requirement that expires at the end of this month, “when the sheriff goes to give someone a (permit), he does his own check with his files to see if this person has been arrested for battery or for drug abuse — he won’t give that person a permit. But we no longer have that ability,” Lichtenegger said.
NRA lobbyist Whitney O’Daniel, who both Swan and Lichtenegger say discussed the issue with them, declined a Missourian interview request. O’Daniel also didn’t immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.