A bill has been filed that aims to keep guns out of the hands of those with a history of domestic violence.
Missourians found guilty of a domestic violence misdemeanor or who were the subject of an order of protection were denied concealed carry permits until the legislature last year overturned the veto of SB 565. That allowed anyone who can legally carry a gun to carry one concealed even without a permit. Domestic violence advocates said that meant the one protection victims had from their abusers having a gun had been removed.
Cape Girardeau Republican Donna Lichtenegger’s legislation, House Bill 766, would mirror Missouri law to a 1997 federal law. It would expand the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm to include those who have been convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors or who have orders of protection against them.
Colleen Coble is the Chief Executive Officer of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Her organization was one of those concerned about what current Missouri gun law might mean for victims. She said HB 766 is the fix that law needs.
“It will allow local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and courts to protect victims in Missouri from the very people who have hurt them – from domestic violence offenders,” said Coble. “It is dangerous to allow people who have already been convicted in Missouri courts for using violence against their family members … to have guns. This is very common sense. It is narrowly limited to keeping guns out of the hands of those who have already hurt their families.”
Lichtenegger said she felt strongly about filing such a bill because of domestic violence committed by her father when she was a child against her, her mother and her brother.
According to the Highway Patrol, 74-percent of the 30 domestic violence related homicides in Missouri in 2015 involved a firearm. In 2011 it was 74-percent of 54 such homicides. The American Journal of Public Health said when a gun is present in a case of domestic violence, there is a 500-percent greater chance of an intimate partner killing his or her partner.
HB 766 includes prohibitions against gun possession by anyone who is in the United States illegally; has been dishonorably discharged from the military; or has renounced United States citizenship.
The bill also includes an emergency clause, which if adopted, would make it effective as soon as it is signed into law by the governor. Lichtenegger said the earlier this could become law, the better, “because this is a matter of life and death. We do not want to lose another person due to this horrible, horrible violence.”