Missouri Democrats pushed Republican Gov. Mike Parson to expand this week’s special legislative session to include gun reform at a press conference Tuesday.
Parson called this week’s special session to address a sales tax issue regarding vehicle trade-ins. Those at the press conference believe gun violence is hurting both Missouri’s urban and rural areas.
Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, the House Minority Leader, condemned Parson for not considering gun violence an appropriate matter to discuss during the special session.
“By prioritizing relatively frivolous legislation over the lives of our children, the governor is demonstrating a stunning level of disdain and disrespect for the victims of gun violence and their families,” Quade said.
When he was asked to consider bills concerning gun violence, Parson previously said in a statement that a “special session is not the correct avenue.”
Democrat lawmakers disagree. They filed over a dozen bills regarding gun laws in Missouri that aren’t likely to be heard during the session. These include laws that would require a firearm owner to report a lost or stolen weapon and would make it illegal to store a firearm in the presence of a child.
Richard Brown, treasurer of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus, said these proposed laws aim to create tangible change regarding the safety of Missouri’s children and the improvement of Missouri’s tourism sector.
Brown referenced several crimes involving guns in Kansas City recently, one of which prompted several changes to the city’s popular First Friday festival.
“Right now, the Plaza is on life support because of the lack of patronage to the businesses on the weekends, because of past violence,” Brown said. “We need to have meaningful conversation, and it should be taking place here at this special session.”
Quade said gun violence is not only a problem for the urban areas of Missouri but also those living in rural towns. Lawmakers are concerned about the rise in suicide rates among farmers and how accessibility to guns contributes to those rates.
Most of the bills will be re-filed during the regular spring session, Quade said.
She said she feels there is a lack of urgency from Parson to address gun violence, who was in St. Louis on Tuesday to meet with local officials on the subject and said the state is in a “crisis” with violent crime in its largest cities.
“The fact is that Missourians are dying every single day. And we need to have the discussion, whether or not there’s a bill, because we are the elected officials for the state of Missouri and it’s our job to protect our citizens,” Quade said.
Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart.