What we need in Missouri are comprehensive laws allowing unrestricted government firearms buyback programs.

For those of you who are not regular readers of my columns, I sold firearms at a local sporting goods store. I sold handguns and long guns, including AR-15s, to anyone who passed the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, background review and had the money to pay for the firearm. I also had the power to deny a person purchasing a firearm if I just had a “bad feeling” about the buyer and I did so more than once.

In Missouri, as in Florida, you can buy a long gun at 18 years of age and must be of good legal and mental standing. The AR-15 used in the Parkland, Florida, shooting was purchased legally.

I am also an advocate for reasonable gun-control laws. This includes, but is not limited to, restricting the sale of military-style rifles, banning ammunition clips that hold more than 10 rounds and better information concerning the mental health condition of the proposed buyer through NICS. You can add to that the need for the FBI and the ATF to delve deeper into the concerns of citizens when it comes to “warning signs” via social media, personal expressions or just a feeling that something is not right.

I am not an advocate of praying for the dead and wounded. As Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted on Feb. 16, “Evidence collected over many years, obtained from many locations, indicates that the power of prayer is insufficient to stop bullets from killing school children.” Or theatergoers or members of a church, temple or synagogue.

But now the students of this nation are getting involved …

There is a call for a national march on Washington and other cities throughout the United States to advocate for stricter gun laws on March 24. There is a call for high school and college students around the country to protest the lack of political spines in Congress by staging a nationwide student school walkout on April 20. There is a call for students to directly respond to the politicians, though some are not old enough to vote. There is a call to remember those who died on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The argument is that this is not the time to discuss gun control laws; that the murder of another 17 should not be politicized to advocate for stricter gun control laws. The students are saying now is time and many adults agree.

Australia was able to enact a very restrictive gun law in 1996 after an “armed (man) with a semi-automatic rifle, shot and killed 35 people, and injured 18 others, in what was known as the Port Arthur Massacre.” According to FactCheck.org, The National Firearms Agreement rid the nation of more than 700,000 long guns and handguns in a “buyback” program. Australia has had no mass shootings since 1996. It also has seen a 20 percent decline in gun-related homicides and manslaughter cases.

Can such a buyback program work in the United States? The answer is a simple “yes,” to a certain degree. Many municipalities, including the city of Columbia, have done so with a modicum of success.

In four hours on Saturday, Dec. 9, the first “Columbia Gift 4 Gun Exchange” got 41 guns off the streets, twice the number originally expected.

According to Officer Bryana Larimer of the Columbia Police Department, all 41 firearms are still in storage with the department awaiting final determination if they are “collectors or relics.” Those that are not will be destroyed.

Section 571.067 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri concerns any buyback by any governmental agency.

The government body must pass a law or ordinance including the requirement to offer the firearms for sale to at least two licensed gun dealers. Only if the offer is made and rejected can the firearm be destroyed.

It is time that this statute is stricken from the RSMo and allow the immediate destruction of these firearms.

Section 23 of the Missouri Bill of Rights is titled “Right to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and certain accessories — exception — rights to be unalienable.” It is time for this section of be stricken from the Missouri Constitution.

As Australia has shown, less guns on the streets equates to less gun-related violence. Missouri must allow the unrestricted ability for cities and counties to have buyback programs without the required offering the firearms for sale back to the general public.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer and professional speaker. You can read more of David’s commentaries at Columbia Missourian.com and InkandVoice.com.

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