Mid-Missouri’s state Senate race and three Missouri House of Representatives races are contested in the Nov. 3 general election.

In the Senate race, incumbent Republican Sen. Caleb Rowden faces Democrat Judy Baker.

In the House races, incumbent Republican Rep. Chuck Basye faces Democrat Adrian Plank, incumbent Republican Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch faces Democrat Jacque Sample, and Republican Rep. Sara Walsh faces Democrat Kari Chesney. 

In an effort to help voters make an informed decision, the Missourian sent each candidate a questionnaire asking for their thoughts on several issues relevant to area residents.

Some of those questions were submitted by readers.

Over the next several days, answers to a different question will be published each day.

Answers are provided in the candidate’s words, but each was given a 150-word limit, and edits were made if the replies exceeded this.

Here are their answers to the following question: What measures should state lawmakers take to address gun violence? (This is a reader-submitted question).

State Senate District 19

Caleb Rowden, R: I am in favor of a conversation around policies that decrease violence in our state without arbitrarily and broadly trampling on the rights of law-abiding Missourians. It’s a tough balance to find, but one that I am certainly interested in finding.

Judy Baker, D: Gun violence is a public health crisis, and Missouri needs commosense gun safety regulations to help address it. Republican politicians in Jefferson City have failed repeatedly to address gun violence in our state, in part because they are beholden to special interests like the National Rifle Associaton and gun manufacturers — not the people of Missouri, who want their Second Amendment rights protected, understand the importance of responsible gun ownership and want to live in safe communities.

I support requiring universal background checks, enacting red flag laws and requiring concealed carry permits. I don’t believe that guns belong in our schools, in daycares, in bars, in libraries or in places of worship, and I am proud to be a Moms Demand Action candidate.

State House District 44

Cheri Toalson Reisch, R: Make sure there are competent prosecutors to prosecute offenders. Harsher sentences.

Jacque Sample, D: We have to focus on education and training; education on safely storing firearms, so children cannot access them; education and training on how to properly use a firearm for an intended purpose (i.e., hunting; target shooting; sport).

We need to make sure we are not writing laws that create immediate loopholes, thereby not addressing the issue. We need to make sure those convicted of domestic violence do not have legal access to a firearm.

And finally, we need to increase mental health services to address the growing number of young men who commit suicide by gun each year in Missouri.

State House District 47

Chuck Basye, R: We should prosecute violent criminals to the full extent of the law. I will never support any attack on law-abiding citizens and their Second Amendment constitutional rights.

Adrian Plank, D: First and foremost, we must not violate our Second Amendment rights. We can curb gun violence with proper training and education. Background checks and closing the gun-show loophole would give us a way to track down those that break the law.

State House District 50

Sara Walsh, R: We passed legislation in a special session to create a witness protection fund to help local law enforcement to have the resources to keep witnesses, potential witnesses and their families safe. We also passed legislation to allow police officers to be able to work in the city of St. Louis as long as they live within an hour’s drive. This should help bring justice to victims of violent crimes and help fill the more than 140 police vacancies.

Kari Chesney, D: We need sensible gun reform in Missouri to address gun violence in the state. Universal background checks on firearm sales should be required for all transactions. We need to close the family and gun-show loopholes. We need red flag laws, which put social service workers on the frontline of evaluating the risk of an individual to themselves or others. These are common sense steps to address gun violence.

However, crime is a symptom, not a disease itself. Most crime is committed because an individual’s needs are not being fulfilled. We need to figure out how to address the inequity in our communities. We need to address mental health, addiction, homelessness, mass incarceration and so many other policies that lead people down a road of violence. Unless we address the real issues underlying gun violence, the current method of enacting harsher sentences or tougher crime policies will never work.

  • Mark Horvit is the state government editor. Call me at 817-726-1621 with story ideas, tips or complaints.

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