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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Gov. Parson Doesn't Support Red Flag Laws For Missouri

Gov. Mike Parson greets members of the Missouri Legislature ahead of his 2020 State of the State address on Wednesday. Parson vowed to support Second Amendment rights in his State of the State address.
Marta Payne | Special to St. Louis Public Radio
Gov. Mike Parson greets members of the Missouri Legislature ahead of his 2020 State of the State address on Wednesday. Parson vowed to support Second Amendment rights in his State of the State address.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is distancing himself from proposed gun restrictions that he previously supported. 

In a November meeting with the mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield, Parson agreed to several proposals to help fight violence, including some so-called red flag laws. 

The mayors and the governor laid out a clear initiative: increase funding for witness protection programs and mental health resources, pass a state law that would prohibit minors from buying handguns, and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and violent criminals.

In the governor’s budget proposal, he asks for $1 million to be allocated toward a witness protection fund. He also wants $1.4 million in increased funding for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Organization.  

However, in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio on Thursday, Parson said gun control was never on the table. 

“One of the things me and the mayors agreed on was that we weren’t gonna talk about gun control to speak of,” Parson said. “They knew where I was at on the issue; I knew where they were at.” 

In the governor’s State of the State address on Wednesday, he recognized the mayors and their commitment to fighting violent crime. He spoke about working with them, and, through “respect and willingness to listen to one another,” they were able to come up with three solutions: providing greater protection for victims and witnesses, providing more mental health resources and services, and strengthening laws to target violent criminals. 

When asked about previously offering support for stiffer regulations for violent offenders and, more specifically, domestic abusers, Parson said he does not back what's commonly referred to as a red flag law. 

“The red flag laws, and whatever the definition of a red flag law is, I haven’t been supportive of that. I don’t even know what the definition of that is, and I don’t think a lot of people know. The bottom line, I’ve been pretty clear. When it comes to law-abiding citizens, I’m going to protect the Second Amendment. Period.” 

Republican leadership in the House and Senate also said they have no intention of considering any restrictions. 

After a deadly summer in St. Louis and other areas, Democrats have pushed for stricter gun control and were critical of what they said was Parson’s lack of response. 

“Frankly, I feel like where the governor’s at with his proposals, for lack of a better word, is a lot of lip service,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, in a press conference following the State of the State address. “He’s been meeting with the mayors of the four largest cities, but we’re not seeing actual proposals that will make any serious change.” 

Parson said he would like to stiffen penalties for violent criminals. 

“If you’ve got a violent criminal out there, doing behavior that’s not normal to society or normal to what we have in the laws, to look at those and say, 'How do you make those sentences stiffer?' I think is a good thing to do,” Parson said. “I think you see what fits the crime.”

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Copyright 2020 St. Louis Public Radio

Jaclyn Driscoll is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. She joined the politics team in 2019 after spending two years at the Springfield, Illinois NPR affiliate. Jaclyn covered a variety of issues at the statehouse for all of Illinois' public radio stations, but focused primarily on public health and agriculture related policy. Before joining public radio, Jaclyn reported for a couple television stations in Illinois and Iowa as a general assignment reporter.