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Republican leaders vow to ‘protect’ gun rights for Missourians ahead of session

   

As legislators prepare to head back to Jefferson City this week, Republican lawmakers are making a point to reaffirm their aversion to taking up strong gun control legislation during the upcoming session. 

Gov. Mike Parson held multiple meetings with a handful of metro area mayors this year as Kansas City and St. Louis, in particular, have grappled with an abundance of gun violence. Following a November meeting, news reports suggested the Republican governor agreed to back the mayors’ call for stronger gun control — among other things. 

But in a one-pager published Saturday, Parson said he has not “supported restricting law abiding citizens’ right to bear arms.” Instead, Parson said the three big takeaways from his meetings with the metro area mayors centered on witness protection, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and “keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals.” 

“I have never wavered in my support of the Second Amendment,” Parson said. “I firmly believe in protecting Missourians’ Second Amendment rights and will continue working with federal, state, local, and community partners to protect the citizens of our state. Over the past months, we have rolled up our sleeves, gotten to work, and identified the immediate actions we can take at the state level to keep Missouri citizens safe, while still protecting their Second Amendment rights.” 

Missouri Republican Party executive director Jean Evans defended Parson on a recent episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics,” noting, “Saying everything is on the table is completely different than saying, ‘I’m for gun control or I want red flag laws or I want any of those other things.’”

House Speaker Elijah Haahr and Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo, too, have vowed not to support policies that “infringe” on the “Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Missouri citizens.” 

“Our federal and state constitutions hold the rights of gun owners sacred,” Haahr told The Missouri Times. “I take those rights seriously, as do the members of my caucus. We look forward to upholding those rights in this 2020 legislative session.”

In a lengthy December Facebook post, Vescovo said “if heavy penalties that already exist” for murder and assault “don’t effectively deter” people from committing them, then “how will any new laws produce better results, especially if they’re little more than window dressing.” 

“Both gun grabbing laws and red flag laws do not get to the root of the problem, which is that criminals will still find ways to obtain weapons with these policies in place. Instead, those policies will create additional hurdles for law-abiding citizens, while those who wish to do harm will continue to obtain stolen weapons on the black market,” Vescovo said. 

Several bills have already been filed by Democrats in an effort to increase regulations and hamper gun violence throughout the state. Sen. Jill Schupp pre-filed legislation that would require passing a background check by a licensed firearms dealer before purchasing a firearm; Rep. LaKeySha Bosley is championing a proposal that would highly regulate the sale of ammunition, including by requiring dealers to keep records of those who purchase ammunition and require transactions to be done face-to-face. 

The legislative session officially gets underway on Jan. 8.