A state House committee is being asked to consider giving all felons a way to have their right to own guns restored.
The bill lists 97 felonies that sponsor, Representative Joe Don McGaugh (R-Carrollton) defines as “violent.” For those felonies, including murder, infanticide, forcible rape, and kidnapping, an offender could three years after completing sentence, petition the court in the circuit the person lives in or was convicted in, to be able to own a gun. Those guilty of other felonies would automatically have that right restored upon completion of sentence.
“People make bad decisions when they’re young. They shouldn’t be penalized for the rest of their lives. They also shouldn’t be penalized from protecting themselves and their families,” said McGaugh.
Becky Morgan with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America opposes the bill in part because of the murder with a gun of her father in 1991.
“In nine years the person who brutally shot and murdered my father will be released from prison. This bill would make it so that three years after that murderer is released they could petition to have gun rights restored,” said Morgan. “I think it is a sad day in the state of Missouri when a law-abiding victim like me needs to come here and ask this Missouri legislature to please not make it possible for my father’s convicted murderer to legally own firearms again.”
McGaugh says the bill is a work in progress and says he will consider changes. Representative Galen Higdon (R-St. Joseph) urged him to make sure to address the situation Morgan outlined.
“I don’t want [her] to have a weapon,” Higdon said to McGaugh.
The list of felonies the bill would define as “violent” would be significant. Missouri law currently does not define what is and what is not a “violent” felon.
“That’s what I’m trying to do in my legislation … one of the things I’m trying to do,” said McGaugh.
Representative Mike Colona (D-St. Louis) raised a question of whether a felon defined as violent could move to a circuit where he or she thinks the judge more likely to grant a gun rights petition.
“Do elected judges in Missouri get ratings from organizations like the NRA?” asked Colona.
No vote has been taken on the bill, HB 1828.