(A previous version of this story misrepresented Republican Representative Justin Hill of Lake St. Louis, who is not a member of the House General Rules Committee and did not comment on any bill other than the one he sponsored to allow firearms owners to store guns in private parking garages, lots, and spaces).
More than eight pieces of gun legislation were discussed in one House committee hearing Monday in Jefferson City.
Sharp differences between vocal Republicans and Democrats who disagree on the appropriate level of gun rights versus regulations was on full display.
Four members from each side of the aisle had bills up for debate. The flood of weapons legislation came as a mass shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month is still a hot topic of public discussion.
Among the most high profile of the measures is a proposal from Republican Representative Jared Taylor of Nixa which would vastly expand the number of locations, particularly private businesses, where concealed carry of guns would become legal. Businesses such as day care centers, churches and bars could allow concealed carry of weapons under the legislation.
Taylor is also sponsoring a bill prohibiting cities and counties from passing any ordinance which regulates the open carrying of firearms. During the hearing, Taylor said he was motivated to file the measure after hearing about an occurrence in which Kansas City Police had forced individuals openly carrying guns to empty them of ammunition.
Democratic committee member Tracy McCreery of St. Louis fired back that gun-toting men had bullied citizens in her neighborhood.
“Just having men with loaded guns at the Starbucks is intimidating and terrifying and uncomfortable,” said McCreery. “And I feel like what we should be doing is being respectful of local elected officials and local law enforcement to do what they can to reflect what is important to their community.”
Among the largest groups attending the hearing, which was held before the House General Rules Committee, was Missouri Moms Demand Action. The organization, which held its annual Advocacy Day at the state capitol last week, has targeted some of its opposition to bills authored by Representative Taylor, notably his measure to expand legal concealed carry locations.
Among the other Republican proposals offered before the committee was one by Representative Nick Schroer of O’Fallon which would outlaw the required use of electronic firearm tracking technology, with specified exceptions. Violators of the provision could be charged with a felony that carries a penalty of up to four years in prison.
Republican Representative Justin Hill of Lake St. Louis presented his plan that would allow firearm owner to transport and store their weapons in privately owned, locked vehicles in parking garages, lots, and parking spaces.
Under the measure, an employer or business could ban firearms from parking lots if storage areas for firearms were made available to an employee or customer, or if alternative parking spots were provided.
Democratic committee member Peter Meredith of St. Louis thought the bill would present an unacceptable infringement on personal property rights.
Another Democratic measure offered during the hearing was a proposal from Representative Stacy Newman of St. Louis that would prohibit the sale of ammunition to minors under age 18. Federal law already prohibits such transfers. But Newman contends the statute is not being properly enforced.
Reporter Abby Eden from WDAF-TV in Kansas City spoke to the committee about a story she and some colleagues did which tracked a 16-year-old who was able to purchase ammunition at three out of five retailers visited.
A measure presented by Democrat Meredith would repeal portions of a far-reaching law passed in 2016 that extended the stand “Stand Your Ground” law. The bill strikes some of the law’s language that frees individuals from having to retreat during certain situations.
Another Democratic piece of legislation from Representative Steven Roberts of St. Louis would authorize an income tax deduction of up to $500 per taxpayer to cover the cost of firearm education and training courses.
The House General Rules committee had two more-gun related bills scheduled to be heard in a Tuesday hearing.