JEFFERSON CITY — During a discussion Friday about this week’s special session, Gov. Mike Parson found himself fielding questions about gun violence in Missouri.
“I think the reason we’re here today and why this has come to a whole different level unfortunately is because children are getting killed,” Parson said.
Parson began the press conference in his Capitol office with an explanation of why he called the session. He said despite reports to the contrary, he called the session for everyday people, not corporations. With him were David, Jill and Scott Kehlenbrink, the family involved in the Missouri Supreme Court case decision that prompted the session.
“I took an oath to uphold the constitutional laws of the state of Missouri,” Parson said. “And when the Supreme Court decision was made, I could not ignore that decision. I had to fix it, and I felt like I could.”
A state Supreme Court case earlier this year ruled that the Department of Revenue had incorrectly been allowing people to gain a tax credit from multiple vehicles when trading them in for a vehicle. The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the law allowed a tax credit from only one sold vehicle to be applied to the purchase of a new one.
On Friday, the Senate unanimously approved a bill changing how many cars can be traded in for a tax credit when purchasing a new vehicle. On Wednesday, the Missouri House of Representatives approved the bill. At the special session, the Senate also approved a number of Parson’s appointees to various boards and committees.
Parson said if he’d waited until the regular session, “thousands upon thousands of people would’ve lost their hard-earned money.”
The second half of the press conference was dominated by questions from reporters about gun violence in St. Louis and Kansas City. Parson said he declined to call a special session to deal with the issue because it “will never be fixed by one agency.”
He cited a shortage of law enforcement as part of the problem.
“All over our state, we’re having a difficult time getting law enforcement officers,” Parson said. “You talk to any county, city police department, especially St. Louis or St. Louis County — you’re hundreds of people short simply because people are not wanting to work in that arena. And it’s dangerous.”
Parson said people will have to work together to find a solution and that his heart goes out to families who have lost people to gun violence. He said he’d lost family himself, including a brother-in-law, in the line of duty.
“Death happens, and it happens quick,” Parson said. “Most of the time you don’t get to say last words to your family. That’s how serious it is.”
He urged families to “hold onto the memories” of their loved ones and to focus on the positive times they had.
Parson said part of the solution is having support systems for families who have lost loved ones, including services like counseling.
“A lot of the time when we talk about crime, we sometimes look at the criminals, but we need to be looking at the families,” Parson said.
He said it will take a long time and a lot of people to solve the problem of gun violence in Missouri.
“It’s unfortunate we didn’t do more 10 years ago about this problem,” Parson said. “All we can do now is take what we’ve got and do the best to change it.”
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said at a press conference Wednesday that it makes “no sense to prioritize tax breaks for the few over the lives of Missourians who die nearly every day due to gun violence.”
“There were several important issues that the legislature could have taken up in special session that could have made a positive impact on all Missourians,” Quade said. “This was not one of them.”
Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart.