Gun violence will likely be a topic during Missouri‘s next legislative session, according to several lawmakers.
Missouri Democrats proposed several bills relating to gun violence during this month’s special session, none of which were heard. Rep. Martha Stevens, D-Columbia, says gun violence will be a priority for lawmakers in January and that she expects many of these bills will be refiled.
Stevens specifically referenced House Bill 9, which was introduced by Rep. Richard Brown, D-Kansas City. The bill would give local officials the ability to create firearm regulations for their own municipalities.
However, Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, says he is skeptical that gun bills will actually reduce gun violence and that he also does not support taking constitutional rights away from law-abiding citizens.
“What would really help would be for the community, the people that live in these areas that might witness stuff, it would be nice if they would speak up,” Basye said. “But often times, I’ve been told by law enforcement ... that these people that may have witnessed something are very hesitant to step forward and say something because they do not want to be the next victim.”
Despite this, Stevens and fellow Democrats expressed hopes of collaborating with Republicans during the next session to pass legislature.
“I think it’s very likely that we will disagree on several points on how to address the issue,” said Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia. “But I’d rather us have the conversation and disagree than to allow the opportunity to pass by to really fix and address the violence issue.”
Kendrick, who owns guns and supports the Second Amendment, said he does not want to take firearms away from citizens. Instead, he said he wants to take reasonable steps to address the issues.
Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, was asked for a comment at an event celebrating the launch of his reelection campaign Thursday night.
“What I’m telling people who come to me and are concerned and have ideas is let’s talk about them,” he said. “I’m all ears if we can find something that will help fix the problem. I want to be a part of that solution.”
When the subject of gun control was broached, he said he would “see what folks bring to the table come January, and we’ll have the conversation.”
Right now, Bayse said that the community should not criticize the work Columbia Police Department and local officials are doing during this time.
Kendrick said that the community should try and understand what factors contribute to why Columbia’s youth choose to go down this path at both a state and local level.
“We have to look at the reason why so many young people are choosing to go down that route in the first place and address it as a holistic issue,” Kendrick said.
Gov. Mike Parson was not available to comment Thursday on the possible future legislation.