A new bill introduced in the Missouri State Senate would remove the prohibitions on lawfully carrying a firearm on public transportation, but anti-gun advocates say the bill “could increase the likelihood” of more violence. Sen. Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat, says the legislation is simply a “bad bill,” but the editors of the Kansas City Star are a bit more loquacious in their opposition.
The paper claims in a new editorial that Sen. Bob Onder’s legislation is a “risk proposition that lawmakers should soundly reject,” though their argument leaves a lot to be desired.
The legislation was filed in response to a series of high-profile violent incidents on the 46-mile, 38-station MetroLink light rail system operated by Bi-State Development in St. Louis. But Kansas City has no equivalent transit system.
Razer is aware that 2020, when 182 people were killed, was the deadliest year on record in Kansas City. He also understands the issues plaguing St. Louis, which recorded 262 homicides last year, its worst homicide rate in 50 years. Both cities contribute to Missouri’s morbid standing as the state with the highest Black homicide death rates in the nation.
So, what’s the best solution to address the growing body count? Approving more guns in public, apparently, says Sen. Onder. A one-size-fits-all approach to reducing violence does little to improve public safety.
MetroLink security guards and other contracted non-police personnel are prohibited from carrying deadly weapons. The transit agency employs officers from regional police departments for security as a result.
“St. Louis has issues that Kansas City doesn’t,” Razer said. “There is no need for a statewide law. St. Louis needs to figure it out.”
The reason for a statewide law is simple. The residents of Kansas City have the same Second Amendment rights as folks in St. Louis, and there’s no good reason to deny individuals who rely on public transportation their right of self-defense both before and after they ride the bus.
In fact, it’s dumbfounding to me that the editors of the Star never acknowledge that the purpose of public transportation is get people from one place to another. Instead, their argument is based entirely on the fact that crime on Kansas City buses is fairly uncommon.
Violent incidents rarely occur on RideKC buses and other vehicles. Only 16 disturbances were reported last year by the agency, said Robbie Makinen, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. Weapons were recovered in four of those instances — a minuscule number for a regionwide transportation system that provides nearly 60,000 trips per day.