Gun control hyperbole unwarranted in Missouri debate

Gun control hyperbole unwarranted in Missouri debate
(Brian Gehring /The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

Earlier today, I wrote a response to a gun control op-ed talking about “heroes and villains.” In it, I note that one should be careful to declare someone a villain just because you disagree with them on a policy position.


I honestly believe that, and I try my best not to fall into that trap, though I can’t say I’m always successful.

Yet sometimes, someone comes along who isn’t a villain because of their position–I can accept that good people disagree with me on any number of subjects–but because of how they try to advance it.

For example, someone who writes a piece titled, “Hartmann: Missouri Gets Famous for ‘Toddlers’ Right to Carry’.”

Now, in fairness, the author may not have written the headline, and a quote in a headline may be pulled out of context to garner attention, especially on the internet.

But the body of the piece doesn’t get much better.

This year’s legislative whoring for the gun lobby started out innocently enough in Missouri.

Oh, goody. We’re getting into “whoring for the gun lobby” right from the start. This is how you know what you’re about to read is evenhanded and rational.

Moving on…

The main focus of Missouri Republican politicians was to be an attack on Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. That’s low hanging fruit in Jefferson City. Sure, it’s pointless, hypocritical and unabashedly racist. That’s why they do it.

Yeah, it couldn’t have anything to do with Gardner being an absolute trainwreck in St. Louis, now could it? Nope. It has to be racism.

Again, evenhanded and rational, right?


Obviously, this wasn’t intended to be just about Gardner and St. Louis and race and political cheap thrills. It was about making a statement. But it also included other gun-related matters, including some ideas recommended by a bipartisan working group that sought to carve out new ground with something other than NRA marching orders.

As an example, the state’s 2016 law — enacted over the veto of Governor Jay Nixon — eliminated permit requirements for concealed carry. But those permits were restricted to 19-year-olds and up (except in the case of 18-year-olds serving in the military), so their elimination also removed any age-related rules as to firearm possession.

Real-world impact: If police stop a kid with a firearm, even if the kid is in their early teens or younger, there’s no such thing as taking away that weapon as unauthorized. Any child has free rein to roam the streets packing heat, for real.

So, Representative Donna Baringer, D-St. Louis, proposed a modest amendment that would have banned minors from carrying certain firearms on public property without the presence of an adult. The Republicans pulverized it with a vote of 104-39.

And yet, kids get arrested with guns all the time in Missouri. Funny how that shakes out, isn’t it?

What we’re seeing, though, is someone who has decided to become the villain in their own right. At no point in this rambling screed is there any effort to try and discuss the issue rationally. Instead, it’s just a long pontification on the moral failings of the other side, complete with accusations of racism and screeching about things that just aren’t an issue.


Further, what the bill in question would do is also make it criminal for a kid to go hunting unless under the direct supervision of a parent. Since some activities, such as deer hunting, don’t really work that way, there was a huge issue with the bill.

But in all this hyperbole, that’s ignored, despite the fact that most of the “kids” carrying guns illegally aren’t toddlers, as is argued in the headline. They’re typically adults under the age of 20 who have already done time and are convicted felons carrying stolen guns.

That doesn’t play well with the gun control narrative, though, so once again, that gets glossed over.

Yet at the end of the day, if you can’t actually sell a concept without that kind of hyperbole then maybe you should reconsider whether it’s even that good of an idea in the first place.

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