RELEASE: Weak Gun Laws Have Had Detrimental Effects on Community Safety in Missouri

Washington, D.C. — Every 10 hours, a person is killed with a firearm in Missouri. It is no surprise that the state’s strength of gun legislation ranks second to last in the nation, and Missouri’s rates of gun homicides, women killed by guns, children killed by guns, and gun thefts are among the highest in the United States. Meanwhile, in the face of these alarming statistics, Missouri policymakers have systematically weakened the state’s gun laws by passing dangerous bills.

A new issue brief from the Center for American Progress presents four aspects of gun violence and gun-related crimes in Missouri and lays out steps to reduce statewide gun violence.

“The high levels of gun violence and gun-related crime in Missouri suggest that state and federal lawmakers have not taken seriously their legal obligation to protect the human rights of Missouri’s citizens,” said Leila Sadat, the James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law and director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. “These include especially the right to life—they also include the right to health, the right to safety and security in their persons and their homes, and the right to be free from cruel treatment. Many of these rights are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution; they are also found in treaties ratified by the United States. Government officials and policymakers need to take these rights seriously to protect the lives and health of Missourians.”

“Missouri’s weak gun laws have a particularly detrimental effect on vulnerable populations, such as communities of color, women, and children,” said Jiyeon Kim, J.D. candidate at Washington University School of Law and co-author of the issue brief. “Missouri state officials can no longer ignore such alarming consequences and need to implement measures that will reduce gun violence and protect the community.”

“Gun violence in Missouri is an urgent public health issue,” said Eugenio Weigend Vargas, associate director for Gun Violence Prevention at CAP and co-author of the issue brief. “Weak gun laws translate to high rates of gun violence, and Missouri is proof of that. Elected officials have a moral duty to change the tide and strengthen—not weaken—the state’s gun laws to increase public safety.”

The issue brief lays out a menu of actions—both legislative and executive—that Missouri should adopt to reduce gun violence.

Legislatively, Missouri should:

  • Reinstate permit-to-purchase laws, along with a background check requirement.
  • Pass laws to protect women from domestic violence offenders.
  • Implement better child access prevention laws.
  • Pass legislation that requires gun owners to report any lost or stolen firearms.

At the executive level, Missouri should:

  • Fund rigorous surveys to identify specific communities at risk of gun violence.
  • Provide preventive services to individuals at greatest risk of exposure to gun violence.
  • Implement an effective interagency program to reduce gun homicide.

Click here to read the issue brief, “Weak Gun Laws and Public Safety Concerns in the State of Missouri.”

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Kyle Epstein at kepstein@americanprogress.org or 202.481.8137.