Missouri Republicans Vote In Favor Of Gun-Toting Children

Missouri Republicans Vote In Favor Of Gun-Toting Children

Should children and teenagers be walking around the streets armed to the teeth with AR-15s? Missouri Republicans say Yes, absolutely, there is no possible way this could go wrong or end very poorly. Surely, the only thing that can stop a bad 8-year-old with a gun is a good 8-year-old with a gun.

On Wednesday, the state's Republican-led House voted 104-39 against a proposal that would have barred minors from openly carrying guns without adult supervision — you could still take your kid hunting and all those other shooty things you love! because we just don't have enough problems with kids gunning down their classmates these days. This is despite the fact that the provision was specifically asked for by police in St. Louis, according to Democratic Rep. Donna Baringer. According to Rep. Baringer, police say they need the provision to stop “14-year-olds walking down the middle of the street in the city of St. Louis carrying AR-15s.”

“Now they have been emboldened, and they are walking around with them,” Baringer said. “Until they actually brandish them, and brandish them with intent, our police officers’ hands are handcuffed.”

The measure was initially part of HB 301, a larger crime bill introduced by GOP Rep. Lane Roberts.

One would think that Republicans, who love so very much to "back the blue," would want to support the police in this way, but apparently not.

“While it may be intuitive that a 14-year-old has no legitimate purpose, it doesn’t actually mean that they’re going to harm someone. We don’t know that yet,” Rep. Tony Lovasco, a Republican from the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon told the Associated Press. “Generally speaking, we don’t charge people with crimes because we think they’re going to hurt someone.”

Actually we do that pretty often. People regularly go to prison — federal prison, even — for plotting crimes without actually committing them. We charge people with "possession with intent to sell" without really knowing for a fact they were going to sell anything. Things can always fall through at the last minute! Or drunk driving. What if that person passed out behind the wheel hasn't even killed anybody yet?!

Indeed, one of the main arguments put forth as to why we need police officers to operate the way the currently do is that they supposedly "prevent crime." This is of course undermined by the many court decisions finding that police officers have no actual obligation to protect anyone from crime and the fact that 95 percent of the time police don't actually respond to 911 calls in time to stop the crime or arrest the perpetrator.

It also entirely possible to make something illegal without sending anyone to jail or even fining them for it — just make it so that if a kid is walking around with a gun, that gun can be confiscated. Police and security guards regularly tell kids and teenagers they can't hang out in parking lots or in public parks or in malls or literally anywhere besides their own homes (how else will we all get to complain that "kids today" are all at home playing on their phones all the time) and for the most part those kids are not being arrested and sent to jail. This is not to say that this is a good thing, but it is at least an example of one way it is possible to bar people from doing something without jail needing to enter into the picture.

Missouri has had 39 school shootings and 73 total mass shootings since 1970.

While the House eliminated that provision, they did vote to advance the crime bill as a whole, leaving the worst parts of it intact. These include such hits as mandatory minimums, enabling car owners to purchase "Back the Blue" license plates, tuition reimbursement for people becoming cops, and undermining progressive prosecutors in the state by allowing the governor to appoint special prosecutors in "high crime areas." This part of the bill was specifically meant to target St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, the first Black woman elected to the position. Gardner has worked to right wrongful convictions and make the criminal justice system more just, which Republicans feel makes her "weak on crime," though her actual record does not bear this out in the least.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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