Since the start of Missouri’s legislative session, lawmakers have prioritized legislation that would strip away the state’s few remaining gun safety protections even as the state continues to experience a gun violence crisis.
In just the past month alone, Missourians have experienced multiple incidents of heartbreaking gun violence. Last week, a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed by his 10-year-old brother in an unintentional shooting. Three people were wounded in a shooting in Jackson County yesterday. Recent reports indicate that a 2-year-old was shot and killed by a Missouri police officer during a domestic violence hostage incident in Kansas in late March, where the child’s 27-year-old mother was also shot and killed. And then, last night, a man was shot and killed by St. Louis police – details are still developing.
Despite the fact that communities continue to bear the burden of gun violence, Missouri lawmakers continue to advance bills that could exacerbate the problem and put Missourians in danger. Lawmakers recently advanced two bills that would unnecessarily expand Missouri’s dangerous Shoot First law, which essentially makes murder legal by letting people use deadly force as the first option rather than the last, even when they can clearly and safely walk away. Both SB 1134 and HB 2118, which contain identical language to SB666, referred to as the “Make Murder Legal Act” by the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and was voted down by lawmakers in February, advanced out of their respective committees recently. Similarly, the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety Committee heard SB 1229, a bill to further expand Missouri’s dangerous Shoot First Law this morning.
According to Everytown’s gun law rankings report, Missouri has some of the weakest gun safety laws and highest rates of gun violence, with none of the foundational gun violence prevention laws and the fourth-highest rate of gun deaths in the nation. In an average year, 1,288 people die and 2,584 people are wounded by guns in Missouri. The rate of gun deaths has increased 70% from 2011 to 2020 in Missouri, compared to a 33% increase nationwide. Firearms are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Missouri.
More information about shoot first laws is available here. More information about gun violence in Missouri is available here.