Missouri governor rejects gun control demands, calls for arming guards at schools after St. Louis shooting

Missouri governor rejects gun control demands, calls for arming guards at schools after St. Louis shooting
(David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

While there were more than a half-dozen school security officers on the campus of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School on Monday morning when an armed former student managed to gain entry into the school, none of those security officials were armed themselves. That’s apparently the official policy of the St. Louis Public Schools, but Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says it’s a policy that needs to change.

“You should never be afraid to give security officers a weapon if they are truly trying to defend students or teachers,” Parson said. “If those officers would have been armed yesterday, this may have been a whole different turnout.”

A spokesperson for the district said they have a response team that is armed and were the first on the scene and the first to fire at the suspect during Monday’s incident.

Democrats in Missouri have been quick to call for changes to the state’s gun laws in the wake of the on-campus shootings that claimed the lives of 61-year old teacher Jean Kuczka and 15-year old student Alexandria Bell and left six other students injured, three of them with gunshot wounds. On Tuesday the governor rejected those demands and instead said the focus needs to be on improving access to mental health services.

“It’s just really unfortunate that everyone wants to go to the political point of the guns when you have a tragedy like this,” Parson said.

… “When you go into some of the cities with the strictest gun laws, they have the highest homicide rates in the United States, so you know that’s not the answer,” Parson said. “Trying to regulate guns, that doesn’t work, we know that. That’s the political argument and again, if you’re someone that’s mentally unstable, you don’t know what that reaction is going to be. You can pass all the laws you want for that, but if they aren’t abiding by the law, it’s not going to make any difference.”

… Instead of passing more laws, Parson said the state should spend more on mental health solutions, and he wants judges and prosecutors involved.

“The reality of it is, the most important thing is what triggered what that young man to do what he did, and I’m telling you, the mental health side of that, I guarantee you, will be a bigger factor in this than he how he became in possession of the gun,” Parson said.

The attacker, whose name will not be mentioned here, apparently had no previous criminal history that would have prevented him from legally purchasing a firearm, and most Missouri Democrats have been vague about what changes to the state’s gun laws they’re actually calling for, though the state’s Second Amendment Preservation Act and its permitless carry laws have been the two biggest targets of gun control activists and Democratic politicians in recent years.

However, Trudy Busch Valentine, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, didn’t mention either law in her call for new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. Instead, she offered up several other potential infringements on the right in the name of public safety.

Valentine on Tuesday called for a state law that would prohibit people younger than 21 from purchasing a gun, as well as universal background checks and so-called red flag laws that would allow police to get court orders to temporarily take away guns from people deemed dangerous.

The statement stopped short of calling for a complete national ban on assault rifles. Valentine said she wanted to work to get “military-style assault weapons out of the wrong hands.”

“I definitely believe in the Second Amendment,” Valentine said in an interview after the discussion with mayors Tuesday. “There are a lot of people that are responsible gun owners. Missourians want to hunt, they want to use guns for sports.”

“It’s a federal law that handguns cannot be sold to people under 21. It should be a state law that no guns, handguns or long guns can be sold to any person under 21.”

If Valentine really believes in the Second Amendment, then why does she think that adults under the age of 21 aren’t entitled to exercise their right to keep and bear arms? What other constitutionally-protected right kicks in at 21? I certainly can’t think of any.

Of course, Valentine’s call to (dis)arm is full of ideas that are either ineffective, unconstitutional, or both. From her unspecified demands to target modern sporting rifles to her push for a federal “red flag” law, it’s clear that the Democrat’s public safety plan revolves around making it harder for responsible gun owners to protect themselves and others instead of focusing on violent offenders and boosting mental health services for those in critical need of support. Missouri voters have a clear choice in the U.S. Senate race this year; the anti-gun candidate who makes empty statements about supporting the Second Amendment while demanding the right be restricted, or Missouri Attorney General and Senate candidate Eric Schmitt, who’s defending the right to armed self-defense, both in court and on the campaign trail.