Missouri lawmakers debate gun law proposals

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Eight bills were on the agenda Monday in Missouri's General Laws Committee. Several new proposed gun laws were debated at a packed hearing in the State House of Representatives.

"People have really had it with gun violence all across the country," said Becky Morgan, a member of Moms Demand Action. "People are turning out in droves. We need to take common-sense steps to reduce gun violence."

A large crowd turned out for the hearing. It was not just standing room only; people stood in the hallway. Many were members of Moms Demand Action. About 400 of them took part in a march on the Capitol last week, demanding sensible guns laws. They also met with lawmakers and confronted them if they didn't like where they stood on a particular issue.

"If our lawmakers do not listen to their constituents and take common-sense steps, we will vote them out of office," Morgan said.

Some of the bills at Monday's hearing would tighten laws on the books, including a minimum age to purchase ammunition in Missouri. An economic incentive to take gun safety courses was also proposed.

Bills to loosen gun legislation included telling business owners they must have a system to lock up employees' guns, even if they don't want weapons in the workplace. Another bill called for allowing guns on state college campuses, daycares, and bars.

"If somebody's not drinking, I think they should be allowed to protect themselves wherever they're at a bar, daycare, university; wherever that might be," said Jerry Benne, a concealed weapons instructor who attended the hearing.

State Representative Jered Taylor (R-Nixa) said he supports guns in more public places.

"Ninety-eight percent of shootings happen in gun free zones," he said, citing a claim from Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. "We're creating targets by not allowing individuals to protect themselves."

The website Politifact rated Corcoran's claim as "half-true."

The Florida mass shooting inspired Missouri students to get involved. On Friday, students from high schools in Clayton and the Parkway school districts held rallies.

State Representative Stacey Newman (D-Clayton) supported the students.

"The kids are mad. They're angry. They're scared," she said.

Some of the gun bills may come up for a vote Tuesday to send them to the entire House of Representatives to decide, or they could die in committee.