Orlando. Dallas. Baton Rouge. And last week, it was Kansas City, KS in mourning, after a gunman shot and killed Police Captain Robert “Dave” Melton, an Iraq War veteran and longtime police officer gunned down as he investigated a reported drive-by shooting.
We knew long before this summer that our country faces a gun violence problem far worse than those in other developed countries. But the past two months have shaken the nation and increased the need for Missouri leaders to stand up for common-sense gun policies that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
In Missouri, state legislators must protect public safety by blocking a veto override of SB 656, a reckless bill that would put Missourians in danger. By eliminating Missouri’s concealed carry permitting requirement, SB 656 would make it legal to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public in Missouri without a permit or any safety training. Gov. Nixon wisely vetoed SB 656 in June, but some state lawmakers—beholden to the special interests of the gun lobby—have threatened to override his veto during a special legislative session in September.
A veto override would be a big step in the wrong direction: SB 656 would scrap Missouri’s sensible permit requirement and roll back public safety measures that keep our communities safe. In the vast majority of states, including Missouri, a person must acquire a permit in order to legally carry a concealed handgun in public. These permits ensure that certain core public safety standards are preserved when people carry concealed handguns in public places. By eliminating Missouri’s permit requirement, SB 656 would lower the bar for who may legally carry concealed handguns in public in Missouri—to include some violent criminals, repeat drunk drivers, and drug criminals.
This would put all Missourians at risk. Polling shows the majority of Missouri voters oppose permitless carry. Among the opponents of SB 656 is Kyle Boyer, a concealed carry permit safety training instructor, who has seen the value of Missouri’s current permit requirement firsthand. “My opposition to the permitless carry and to Senate Bill 656, which includes the proposal, is not a matter of being pro-gun or anti-gun,” Boyer wrote in a July 20 op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It is about being pro-responsibility.”
Another opponent of the proposal is Kevin Ahlbrand, the president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. In a letter to Gov. Nixon in June, Ahlbrand wrote that removing Missouri’s permit requirement would strip law enforcement of an important public safety tool police officers use to protect the public and keep guns away from dangerous people. If enacted into law, SB 656 “will cost not only citizen lives, but will also be extremely dangerous to law enforcement officers,” Ahlbrand wrote.
As you plan your coverage around SB 656, I urge you to learn more about the bill’s implications. A fact sheet is available here. As the fact sheet shows, in addition to eliminating the concealed carry permit requirement, SB 656 would make Missouri the first state to pass a Stand Your Ground law since the death of Trayvon Martin.
This summer has shown us the grave need for common sense when it comes to our gun policies. We must respond not with reckless bills like SB 656 but by standing on the side of law enforcement and public safety. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.