Senate committee hears proposals for gun rights and restrictions
BY CHARLES BOEHME
Missouri news network
JEFFERSON CITY — A Senate committee listened to pitches Wednesday (3-8-2023) for three firearm-related bills.
The bills include allowing individuals with concealed carry licenses to carry on public transportation, legal liability for businesses that ban guns and the criminalization of celebratory gunfire.
One of two bills introduced by Sen. Nick Schroer, R-St. Charles, would allow an individual to carry a concealed firearm onto public transit.
“Despite the fact that this has been prohibited in the law for quite some time, criminals are not abiding by the law,” Schroer said while introducing the bill to the Senate Committee for Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety.
While a permit is not required to carry a concealed handgun in the state of Missouri, the bill would require a concealed carry license to take the weapon on public transit. This change would provide more flexibility for those wishing to carry a weapon at all times.
“The problem may not be on the transportation, but the trip from your home to the bus stop, from the bus stop to your place of business and return,” said Carl Smart, vice president of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance, in support of the bill.
“We don’t feel that allowing the passage of a bill like this is going to do anything to really establish more safety,” said Michael G. Winter, the state affairs consultant for the Missouri Public Transit Association.
Winter went on to say that due to the confined spaces of public transit, a civilian attempting to defend themselves with a firearm could potentially harm other passengers.
The second bill introduced by Schroer would require businesses that do not allow firearms in their facility to be liable for the safety of their customers. If a person were to suffer bodily harm or property damage while on the premises of a business that does not allow firearms, they may file a civil suit against the business seeking damages.
The bill specifies that the cause of the bodily injury or harm must be something that could reasonably be stopped by the possession of a firearm, including criminal action or attacks from dangerous animals.
Opposition for the bill came from representatives for Chamber of Commerce organizations. Kara Corches, a lobbyist for The Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said that her organization was concerned about the legal burden that would be put on businesses.
“Not only is our concern on any type of new mandate on businesses but also the opportunity for massive lawsuits against businesses,” Corches said.
A bill introduced by Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, is another attempt to criminalize the negligent discharge of a firearm within municipal limits. Referred to as Blair’s Law, the bill would criminalize celebratory gunfire.
Blair Shanahan Lane was an 11-year-old girl who was killed by celebratory gunfire in 2011. Her mother, Michele Shanahan DeMoss, has since worked with legislators to outlaw celebratory gunfire.
The bill has been introduced to the legislature in past sessions with bipartisan support, though it failed to be passed before the end of the session.
DeMoss spoke on how frequently she has been to the Capitol to support past versions of Blair’s law, saying the first iteration had been introduced over 10 years earlier.
“I’m just going to keep it short and simple, it’s common sense,” DeMoss said.
Following DeMoss’ testimony, many of the witnesses on every bill spoke in support of the effort.
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