Hundreds of gun-restriction advocates visited the Missouri Statehouse on Tuesday to encourage lawmakers to pass stricter gun control measures.
The specific legislation Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action want would prohibit anyone with a domestic offense conviction or an order of protection from purchasing a firearm.
Colleen Coble, executive director of the Missouri Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, said that because legislators aren’t doing their jobs, Missouri ranks 13th in the nation for the highest number of women killed by men.
“Missouri lawmakers have failed to put in place the legislation that we know is not just a good idea but a way in which we know can prevent homicides,” she said.
Retired St. Louis Police Chief Daniel Isom said passing this proposal is vital for police officers to protect victims of domestic violence.
“It’s hard to convince someone who has to return home or return back to their community when they know the individual who is abusing them can possess a gun,” Isom said.
Leslie Washington, who is from southeast Missouri, said she was in an abusive relationship for nearly a decade. Even after the separation, she feared for her life. While she was staying at a safehouse during the separation, she was threatened by her abuser, she said.
“Right after I left he posted a video on Instagram, polishing a gun while a fully loaded clip laid on the bed beside him,” she said. “He would often tell me he was going to kill me.”
At the rally, Washington spoke about Missouri’s “lax gun laws” and called on lawmakers to fulfill their “responsibility” to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Because she knew her abuser had access to a firearm, Washington said she never felt safe.
“Even though he had a history of abuse and was a convicted felon, the fact that he carried a firearm haunted me,” Washington said, “causing me to look over my shoulder wherever I went. It felt like I was being punished.”
After a violent summer in St. Louis and other areas, several Democrats want to see tougher laws surrounding guns. Republican leadership said they will not consider any of these proposals.
Gov. Mike Parson had previously supported something similar to this idea but has since reversed his position.
The House version of the proposal has not been assigned to a committee. The Senate version has been assigned to a committee but has not had a public hearing. It is possible these measures will not be moved out of committee.