Editorial: Gun laws need to be stronger

Shooting Editorial 1
Art by Gracie Giles

Two people were killed and seven others were injured in a shooting at the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience on Oct. 24.

This event showed the reality that guns can find their way into communities even like Saint Louis.

Police responded to a 911 call that morning indicating there was an active shooter in the building. Although the police response was quick, Alexzandria Bell, a sophomore at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, and Jean Kuczka, a health teacher at the school lost their lives. Seven other victims, with ages ranging from 15 to 16, suffered injuries due to the shooting.

Although these were the only victims suffering physical injuries, hundreds more students will be dealing with the mental effects of the aftermath of the shooting–both those who were at the school, and those who weren’t.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, an American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control and against gun violence, “Missouri gun laws are some of the weakest in the country. Missouri has no law requiring background checks on unlicensed gun sales. State law also allows people to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public without a permit or safety training.”

Missouri is also in the bottom 10 states for gun law strength and experiences the fourth highest gun death rate, with an average 1,288 people dying due to guns per year in Missouri. Out of that average of 1,288, 116 are children and teens.

The rate of gun deaths in Missouri from 2011 to 2020 has increased by 70%, compared to a nationwide 33% increase. In 2020, firearms were also the leading cause of death among children and teens, significantly higher than even motor vehicle accidents.

These alarming statistics, along with recent events, have provoked a call for action by some Missouri legislators.

Missouri State Senator Doug Beck is again, for the third year in a row, filing legislation to establish a Missouri “Red Flag” law due to the recent events at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience. This “Red Flag” law would establish procedures for courts to issue an extreme risk order if an individual in possession of a firearm is deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Although Beck is working on passing gun control legislation, the same can not be said for other Missouri lawmakers.

On June 14, 2021, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed into law the “Second Amendment Preservation Act, or SAPA.” This law makes any person or entity who “knowingly deprives Missouri citizens of their right to bear arms liable for redress and monetary damages of $50,000 per occurrence.”

This law also prohibits state and local cooperation with federal officials that attempt to enforce any rules, laws, orders or actions that violate Second Amendment rights of Missouri citizens.

The SAPA now has multiple lawsuits being filed against it. The United States Department of Justice has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Missouri over this law. The City of Arnold also filed a lawsuit against the SAPA and is now being backed by nearly 60 police chiefs from the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Association and the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.

The federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was passed in June 2022 and is an act to keep communities, schools and children safe, and to reduce the threat of violence across the country. The SAPA currently prevents this law from being instated in Missouri, due to its prohibition of cooperating with federal officials, and it will remain that way at least until the cases against the SAPA are settled.

The inability for the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to go in place in Missouri is damaging to the whole community. Proper gun regulations can not be put in place, and people will continue to be put in danger again and again.

While one can not go out and change the current laws in Missouri, there are still ways they can get involved. There are many organizations, such as Everytown for Gun Safety or March For Our Lives, that one can donate and give support to. Both of these organizations accept donations, and tell one how to get involved in the movement to end gun violence.

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