JEFFERSON CITY, MO – A Missouri House committee passed a bill Tuesday night to make it easier to carry a gun in a place like a church or school.
By a vote of 8-4, the House General Laws committee passed House Bill 1936, which would eliminate about 15 gun-free zones currently codified in state law.
Missourians have the right to carry concealed without a permit but still cannot carry in a gun-free zone. The bill would allow property owners covered by the law to allow guns on their property.
"Anytime we can give the ability to individuals that are doing it lawfully [carrying a gun], who want to protect themselves, let them make that decision in the heat of the moment and maybe stop a mass shooting before it starts," said Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa.
The bill passed after the committee held more than six hours of contentious testimony from people from across the state. Dozens of activists from the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America group showed up for Monday's hearing.
"They [Republicans] weren't listening to the kids that spoke up in this committee hearing, that expressed the dramatic shift that's happening in the state and nation on this issue," said Rep. Peter Meredith, D-St. Louis. "They're ignoring what the public wants, they're ignoring what our constituency wants, and I find that to be a shame and dangerous for our state."
The hearing came two weeks after the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The committee was originally scheduled to meet last week on a day that coincided with the mom's groups annual lobbying day.
While Republicans and Democrats offered competing visions for gun control, one Republican said all legislators share the same goal.
"I think it's a step in the right direction as far as talking about how do we keep our children safe, how do we keep our families safe in the state of Missouri," said Rep. Nicholas Schroer, R-O'Fallon. "Is one route allowing for teachers and educators to take the training and arm themselves inside the classroom. I think we need to at least start the discussion."
In addition to passing House Bill 1936, the committee passed a bill to allow lawful gun owners to store guns in their car in private parking lots. The committee also passed a bill to keep cities from regulating the open carry of guns.
The votes Tuesday were along party lines.
Democrats lost on proposals to prevent ammunition sales to people under 18 and an effort to repeal concealed carry without a permit and "stand your ground."
A Democratic measure to require background checks also failed. The bill would have mandated checks for all sales, not just those conducted at federally licensed dealers.
The Republican-backed measures now move on to the full House for consideration.
The bills that passed include: HB 1256, HB 1326, HB 1865, HB 1936 and HB 1937.
Failing are: HB 2281, HB 1733 and HB 1342