Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal to leave a loaded, unlocked gun within reach of a child under 18.
“I don’t think we wait for this to be a common problem, we’ve seen children get their hands on guns and either shoot themselves accidentally or another child and I think we have a responsibility to prevent those things ... [from] happening,” said Mary Pat Carl, a homicide prosecutor.
Anyone in violation of the bill would be subject to a series of jail sentences. This includes anyone who "fails to safely secure a loaded gun around a minor." Offenders could face one day to four years if they have an unsecured firearm in the presence of anyone under the age of 17.
The sentence is stricter if the firearm goes off. If the minor is injured, the sentence increases to 5-15 years. If the minor is killed, it's 10-30 years or life in prison, depending on the circumstances.
“This legislation promotes easy safe ways that everybody can do their part … it’s as simple as buying a gun lock or a gun safe or putting it unloaded out of the reach of a child,” Carl added.
A gun control advocacy group called Everytown For Gun Safety released a study from 2014, in which they found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) had underrated the number of gun-related deaths between the Decembers of 2012 and 2013. According to their own research, the EGS found that nearly two children died per week from gun violence, with 2/3 of these deaths completely avoidable with proper firearm storage and safety.
On the other side of the gun debate, Senator Bob Onder (R) of Lake St. Louis is proposing a bill to "increase concealed carry laws in the state." This would allow more people to carry concealed firearms in public, as well as on buses and trains, meaning more people could carry concealed weapons around children of any age.
State Senator Bob Dixon (R) agrees with Onder's proposal, and even sponsored his own "college campus concealed carry bill." He says, “I think all of us are concerned about safety.”
While it is our right to bear arms, as per the Second Amendment, we need to use caution and common sense when deciding where and how to use them.
What's your take on the debate?