MOST STATES require a person who wants to legally carry a concealed handgun in public to acquire a permit and, in most cases, receive firearms training. Giving law enforcement a say in who can carry guns in America’s cities and neighborhoods, while ensuring they are properly trained, just makes sense. Unfortunately, that commodity is in short supply in Missouri, where lawmakers buckled to pressure from the national gun lobby and overrode the governor’s veto of a bill that not only demolishes the state’s permitting system but also lowers the legal standard for use of deadly force.
A “perfect storm” was how one critic described the law that eliminates Missouri’s long-standing safeguards for concealed weapons while establishing a “stand your ground” standard that allows a person to shoot to kill and claim self-defense even if there were other alternatives. In vetoing the bill in June after it had been passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said it would allow “individuals to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they have been or would be denied a permit because their background check revealed criminal offenses or caused the sheriff to believe they posed a danger.”
Included in this dangerous category are domestic violence offenders who, as a result of last week’s veto override, will be able to carry concealed weapons in public without scrutiny or restriction. That, the mayors of Kansas City and St. Louis wrote in an op-ed urging that Mr. Nixon’s veto be upheld, has “life-and-death implications” at a time when domestic violence has been on the rise in Missouri. The two mayors were not alone in wanting to preserve permits. A survey showed public sentiment strongly opposed to letting people carry guns in public without permits. Organizations representing law enforcement, including the state Police Chiefs Association and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, warned about the threat to public safety and to officers doing their jobs.
Everytown for Gun Safety pointed out the lopsided effect stand your ground laws have on people of color, noting that homicides are more likely to be deemed justifiable when white shooters kill black victims than when the shooter is black and the victim is white. The state’s four Catholic bishops added their voices.
But reason and logic did not count for much in Jefferson City. Not when the National Rifle Association made the issue a major priority. And not when it cowed enough lawmakers to do its bidding with no thought to what best serves the people of Missouri.
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