The Missourian asked candidates for state representatives in our region to answer a series of questions, and we're presenting their answers, as they wrote them, in a series of articles.
Today's question: Today's question was submitted by a Missourian reader and selected in an online poll — "How will you work to strengthen safety laws to address the crisis of gun violence experienced every day across our state?"
Cheri Toalson Reisch, Republican, District 44
There is no one good answer. We need more law enforcement officers. Society has changed where people are raised in single-family homes, lack of discipline, and religious morals. Mental illness is a factor that also needs to be addressed.
Maren Bell Jones, Democrat, District 44
We need to go back to having certification required for concealed carry in Missouri as I am very concerned there will be accidents if citizens who choose to carry are not informed about their obligations regarding safety and liability in carrying.
Cathy Richards, Republican, District 46
From the beginning of time people have used “weapons” to protect themselves and their families. They’ve used rocks, knives, sticks, swords, bows and arrows, and guns just to name a few. The problem, though, is not with the “weapons” chosen, but the individual picking up the weapon intent in doing harm. I was raised around guns. I do not remember one accident with a gun in my rural neighborhood. And not one act of violence committed using a gun. Having a Master’s in Counseling, I would prefer to find what prompts individuals or groups to want to do harm to others. It will take more oversight from parents, family and friends, counselor’s at schools and law enforcement to help in this endeavor, but safety would be the goal. Get the anger under control and you’ve solved much of the problem. Emotions control the people who control the weapons.
Martha Stevens, Democrat, District 46
This is a critical public health and safety issue I take very seriously. We can pass legislation to enact universal background checks, repeal the dangerous “stand your ground” law that was passed in 2016, and support educational programs for parents and guardians about proper gun safety and storage in homes. Missouri is one of the most dangerous states for women experiencing domestic violence because of our gun laws. Women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if their abuser possesses a gun. That is why I support laws that would prevent abusers from lawfully possessing a firearm. I am also proud that I was awarded with the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction. If re-elected, I am committed to working on common sense gun safety legislation.
William Hastings, Green, District 46
There is no simple solution to gun violence. We must find a proper balance between the legitimate rights of hunters and others with a right to bear arms with the need for security and safety for the general population. The constitution must be respected, but the constitution referred to muskets, not AR 15s. George Washington did not use bump stocks at Valley Forge. Background checks and licensing of gun owners are appropriate. We should also work at changing attitudes. The mass media can do more to erase the notion that having a gun makes you strong. Parents should monitor their children’s entertainment to see that glorification of violence is not their entertainment.
Adrian Plank, Democrat, District 47
We need to close the gun show loophole and make sure everyone who buys a gun has been thoroughly vetted through a universal background check.
Chuck Basye, Republican, District 47
Basey did not submit a response.
Sara Walsh, Republican, District 50
I introduced a House Concurrent Resolution (HCR 101) this year to create a School Violence Task Force with the mission of the task force to raise awareness of the school violence problem in Missouri and provide organizations and agencies that work to end school violence with a central place to share information. The legislation didn’t make it past the finish line during session, but I plan on working with my colleagues in the legislature to further develop this next session.
Michela Skelton, Democrat, District 50
Gun violence is a complex problem that must be addressed from multiple angles. The leading cause of gun death nationwide is suicide. We need to expand access to affordable mental healthcare to address rising rates of depression and suicide. We also need police departments, medical professionals and family members to be able to request a court order for a temporary removal and hold on new gun purchases for a person who may present a danger to themselves or others. We also need to close the loophole that allows former intimate partners with a protection order against them to continue to possess firearms. We also need to require background checks for gun show sales and provide background check assistance to private sellers before a sale. Finally, we need safe gun storage requirements to reduce unsupervised access by children and reduce firearm theft to reduce blackmarket supply.