Wed December 19, 2012
Many Look To Lawmakers To Curb Gun Violence
After the tragedy in Connecticut, many are now looking to elected officials to enact legislation that will curb gun violence. But Missouri’s Senators and state representatives don’t agree on what that response should be.
On Saturday, Republican Senator Roy Blunt said stricter gun laws are unlikely to deter similar acts of violence. Later, he told the Kansas City Star that he would vote against anything that negatively impacts the Second Amendment, and that federal gun laws won't change anytime soon.
Although he did not step back from those statements on Wednesday, Blunt admitted he was too quick in that assessment.
"Probably what we had there was me too willing to talk about what was likely to happen here," Blunt said in a conference call to reporters.
When pressed further on how he would vote on a ban on assault weapons, Blunt did not give a clear answer.
"I really don't have anything to say on that," Blunt said. Whatever we do we have to do consistent with protection to the Constitution."
Blunt added that there will be plenty of time to discuss it later, after all the facts from this tragedy come to light.
Should school personnel be armed?
Some, like St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch, believe one of the takeaways is that teachers and administrators should be trained and armed. In fact, More than two dozen Missouri lawmakers are backing legislation that would allow teachers and administrators with concealed gun permits to carry weapons in schools.
The Missouri bill is sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Kelley, of Lamar, and is supported by top lawmakers. Kelley's 24 co-sponsors include House Speaker Tim Jones, of Eureka, and Majority Leader John Diehl, of Town and Country.
Missouri law currently prohibits concealed guns at schools unless approved by the local school board or a school official.
Earlier this week, Republican Rep. Stanley Cox, of Sedalia, suggested that people might think twice about attacking schools if they knew that teachers or administrators could be carrying guns.
But Blunt did not agree with that sentiment. "I don't think we should rush to the conclusion that more people with guns in school is the solution to this," he said.
President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he is launching a "task force" to come up with ways to combat gun violence. He also called on the next Congress to vote on banning assault weapons, which Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill supports.
But she began her talk with reporters by saying she won't infringe upon Second Amendment rights, and that her father was a hunter.
"But I don't recall him ever needing a clip that had multiples of bullets in them," McCaskill said. "I do not recall him needing guns that were designed for killing people in war.”
What both the senators do agree on, however, is that there should be a larger focus on mental health in America.
"People need to realize that there a lot of mental health needs that are out there that are not available by people on Medicaid," McCaskill said. "We've taken steps to try to get mental health coverage mandated in health insurance."
"My efforts are going to be more productively spent looking at (mental health notifications)," Blunt said. "The privacy aspects of the law stands in the way of us dealing with the problems they have."
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel
- See more stories on politics and policy from St. Louis Public Radio, the St. Louis Beacon and Nine Network of Public Media at BeyondNovember.org.
Nixon on Newtown tragedy
Gun Control / Weapons