The Missouri chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, the grassroots networks of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement after Missouri Governor Mike Parson today signed HB 85 into law, a dangerous bill that attempts to nullify federal public safety laws in Missouri as well as prohibit state and local law enforcement officers from assisting in the enforcement of those laws — including laws which help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and others with dangerous histories.
“We are frustrated and disappointed that Governor Parson signed a dangerous bill into law today that ties the hands of law enforcement officers while Missouri is facing one of the worst gun violence epidemics in the country,” said retired Sheriff Rick Walter, a volunteer with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We need policies that will protect our communities, not ones that will interfere with the enforcement of the critical protections that help keep our communities safe from gun violence. The fight doesn’t end here — we remain committed to advocating for policies that will truly address the gun violence crisis in our state.”
“By signing this bill into law today, Governor Parson made it clear he is more interested in bowing to extremists than public safety,” said Ben Cohen, a volunteer with the Missouri chapter of Students Demand Action. “Today our state has taken a step backward in the fight to end gun violence, when we need to be moving forward and creating a better future where we can all be safer in our communities. There was no reason for Governor Parson to sign this dangerous bill into law. We will continue to speak out until we have real protections against the gun violence crisis.”
This bill prevents Missouri state and local law enforcement from assisting in the enforcement of basic public safety laws and coordinating with federal law enforcement agencies, and threatens to penalize law enforcement agencies and local governments for taking steps to protect their communities from gun violence.
According to the Associated Press, “Putting local officers in a position to decide which laws to enforce is the last thing police need at a time when cities such as St. Louis are experiencing a rise in violent crime, [Former St. Louis Police Chief Dan] Isom said….‘This has been an extremely challenging year for both communities and law enforcement, and to ask any more mental strain on officers at this point in time seems to be quite displaced,’ [Isom] said.”
Nullification legislation would undermine law enforcement efforts to curb gun violence by interfering with the enforcement of federal public safety laws. Missouri already has some of the weakest gun laws in the country, and under a nullification law Missouri law enforcement officers would no longer be able to assist federal authorities in keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and others with dangerous histories.
Missouri has long faced one of the worst gun violence epidemics in the country. It has the 5th-highest rate of gun violence in the nation, with 1,222 people killed and 2,584 others wounded by guns in an average year. Gun violence costs Missouri $9.8 billion each year, of which $507.2 million is paid by taxpayers.