In recent years, one state that’s managed to impress me a great deal has been the state of Missouri. Time and time again, they’ve stepped up on pro-gun legislation. Sure, some of the more unusual measures don’t seem to go anywhere, but that’s fine. No one is losing sleep over those. Not right now, anyway.
However, like any state with large urban areas, Missouri has a problem. There are a handful of anti-gun cities that want to dictate legislation for the rest of the state.
So far, things have gone well on that front. Missouri remains a fairly pro-gun state.
The question is, for how long? After all, it seems the governor is willing to give up people’s constitutional rights to appease those same urban centers.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson agreed to back stricter gun control after a meeting Monday with mayors from St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield to continue their discussion on addressing crime and gun violence throughout the state.
One of those measures is to ensure minors do not have access to handguns. Currently, it is a federal felony for anyone under 18 to possess a handgun, but Missouri has no such law. This makes it difficult for prosecutors when charging young offenders.
“For obvious reasons, prosecutors don’t want to refer juveniles to the federal system, and I don’t think any of us want kids to be in that federal judiciary system,” said Columbia Mayor Brian Treece after the meeting at the state capitol. “So having a state companion law that closes that loophole between the nonexistent law in state government and the federal felony law, I think, could give law enforcement the tools they need.”
They also want firearms out of the hands of violent offenders and domestic abusers. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said these are not radical reforms and can make a real difference.
“We think that these steps are reasonable ones,” he said. “We’ll be pushing to make sure they’ll be in effect both in our localities, but also statewide.”
Treece noted many of the offenders who were arrested surrounding the recent spike in violence across the state had previous felony charges that were reduced to misdemeanors. This allowed them to continue carrying handguns. With a stricter state law, prosecutors can use the right to carry as leverage in a misdemeanor plea bargain.
The problem with this is that many of those with misdemeanor convictions weren’t pled down to that from a felony charge. Trying to disarm them despite having done nothing to warrant a felony conviction is extremely problematic.
As for juveniles, a judge’s reticence to refer a juvenile offender to the federal system sounds like a personal problem. Granted, if it merely mirrors federal law, it’s not really much of an issue for me. After all, it’s already the law.
But that doesn’t do anything about this continued push by anti-gunners to expand the list of people who can’t own a firearm. As it stands now, felony and domestic violence convictions are sufficient under federal law. The problem is that this effort is about expanding that to people who don’t technically have a domestic violence conviction. They have other charges, some of which have been used for those pleading down from felonies. Other people, however, were only guilty of crimes that warranted misdemeanor charges.
Of course, it’s important not to get too worked up right now. We don’t have a lot of specifics, so we’ll need to wait. Perhaps they’re, once again, trying to reflect federal law. That said, I doubt it.
We’ll be watching this, but it should be noted that just because a few cities want it, that doesn’t mean Governor Parson is going to be well served by listening to them.