Monday, February 19, 2024

Missouri GOP Halts Pro-Gun Bills After Kansas City Shooting Amid Public Safety Debate

(AP/Charlie Riedel)

Following the tragic shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs' victory parade, Missouri Republicans have halted progress on two significant pro-Second Amendment bills this legislative session. The arrested suspects, being underage, were not legally permitted to own firearms, underscoring that they were not representative of lawful gun owners. Despite this, some Republican lawmakers are hesitating due to concerns over the perception of supporting gun rights in the aftermath of the incident, which resulted in one fatality and numerous injuries.

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The proposed legislation included measures to allow concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms onto public transportation and into places of worship, as well as to exempt firearms and ammunition from state and local sales taxes.

One of the bills would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms onto public transportation, including buses, as well as inside places of worship. The other would have exempted firearms and ammunition from both state and local sales taxes.

House Majority Floor Leader Jon Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, said that while he believes both bills were worthy of debate, “they have no path to becoming law at this point.”

“Now is not the appropriate time to be taking up those bills and therefore they will not be brought up this session,” Patterson said.

The decision from Patterson, who is responsible for bringing up bills for debate on the House floor, follows a deadly shooting Wednesday in Kansas City.

The shooting occurred at the celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory, killing one person and leaving more than 20 people injured.

Patterson said he spoke with the sponsors of both bills and “had productive conversations about what was in the best interest of our body as a whole, including many members who were at the shooting.”

House Majority Floor Leader Jon Patterson expressed his belief in the merit of these bills but acknowledged the current political climate as unsuitable for their advancement. This decision comes in the wake of the Kansas City parade shooting, prompting discussions among lawmakers about the most appropriate response to ensure the legislative body's collective best interest.

Critics argue that delaying these bills gives undue power to anti-gun proponents, who may never deem it a suitable time for such legislation. Representative Emily Weber voiced her opposition to the bills, advocating instead for discussions on gun control measures she believes are more urgent.

Rep. Emily Weber, D-Kansas City, said she’s glad the House would not pass the bills this session, but she doesn’t want them to come up in future sessions either.

“What are we going to do in the future? What's going to be next session and the session after that? Because we've all heard these bills multiple times now,” Weber said. “And we will continue to still hear these bills.”

Weber said the legislature should instead take up gun control bills.

“I would really love for them to sit down with us and have conversations about the common sense gun laws that we've been trying to file and push and get hearings,” she said.

Representative Adam Schnelting, the author of one of the bills, criticized the decision to postpone these legislative efforts, pointing out that existing laws did not prevent the Kansas City tragedy. He argues that enabling lawful gun owners to protect themselves in more settings is a sensible step forward, especially in light of the current prohibitions on public transit that disarm commuters.

The debate highlights a broader conflict within Missouri's legislature over how to balance gun rights with public safety concerns. Despite the contention, legislative leaders appear to have shelved any gun-related proposals for the remainder of the session, drawing criticism for not taking a firmer stance on self-defense rights. Critics emphasize the missed opportunity to address safety concerns in public transit and places of worship, arguing that proactive measures are necessary to protect citizens in an increasingly unpredictable world.

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