On Monday, Missouri lawmakers advanced a very controversial bill, KMOV4 reports. The bill would make it legal to allow people to give children guns without their parents’ permission.
Currently, it’s a crime in MO to “recklessly” give guns to minors without the parents’ permission. The state House there just voted to advance a bill that would no longer make that a crime.
Ironically, the whole reason the state House is revisiting this law is because Governor Mike Parson, who is a Republican, had recently asked them to do so. However, the House delivered the opposite of what the governor wanted.
Governor wanted harsher punishment
The current punishment in MO for recklessly giving a firearm to a minor is a misdemeanor. Gov. Parson asked for the penalty to be heightened. He thinks it should become a felony offense in order to address violence in the state’s cities.
Sometimes, criminals use illegal firearms in a crime, then hand them off to kids. They do so to avoid being caught with the weapon by the cops. Parson argues that a harsher punishment would help deter this from happening.
Violent crime rates in cities like Kansas City and St. Louis, MO are some of the highest in the country. Jim Salter at the AP writes, “St. Louis and Kansas City both had among the highest homicide rates in the nation in 2019, and the trend is far worse in 2020. St. Louis has recorded 130 killings, including four more Tuesday night, compared to 99 at the same time in 2019, and is on pace to easily exceed the 194 homicides of last year. Mayor Lyda Krewson, a Democrat, has said the violence is ‘devastating our communities and our families.'”
“All of this is unacceptable,” Parson said at a press conference. “We are better than that in Missouri, and we must hold violent criminals accountable for their actions.”
House takes complete opposite approach, lessens punishment
Well, things didn’t exactly go Gov. Parson’s way. The current law being changed “would allow grandparents or other family members to be charged with a misdemeanor for taking children hunting without their parents’ permission,” the lawmakers in charge of the decision stated.
Now, a new version of the bill proposes there should be no misdemeanor punishment for people who give guns to children. It would be a felony to give guns to children with the intention of avoiding arrest or criminal investigation, though.
The new draft of the bill does “the opposite of what the governor called us here to do,” said St. Louis Democratic representative Peter Merideth. “We’re making it easier for people to let kids play with guns without the consent of parents.”
Merideth pushed for keeping the misdemeanor for giving guns to kids on the bill regardless of intent, but the majority of the state House disagreed.