Missouri lawmakers pass bill making it legal to give guns to kids without parents' permission

The GOP-controlled Missouri House on Tuesday advanced a bill that would make it legal to give guns to children without their parents’ permission. 

The bill comes after Gov. Mike Parson (R) called lawmakers back for a special summer session on crime and asked the legislature to penalize criminals who unlawfully use firearms, then pass them off on children to avoid detection.

The legislation is the exact opposite of what Parson called for, according to The Associated Press.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is currently a misdemeanor crime to “recklessly” give a child a gun without their parents’ permission. 

On Tuesday, the state House voted to toss out the existing law and only make it a felony to give firearms to minors if the intent is to avoid arrest or criminal investigation.

Republicans reportedly decided to target the law so grandparents or other family members would not be charged for taking kids shooting or hunting without permission.

GOP state Rep. Dean Plocher said the change would protect good-faith actors “so that those that are trying to help their grandson go hunting or something like that are not going to be wantonly charged with a crime.”

Democrats, however, argue that the bill takes control away from parents, AP noted.

“We’re making it easier for people to let kids play with guns without the consent of parents,” state Rep. Peter Merideth (D) said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Merideth pushed for an amendment to the bill that would still make it a misdemeanor for recklessly giving guns to children without permission, but his amendment was struck down 94-41.

The bill will need another vote of approval before it is sent to the state Senate for consideration.

The legislation is part of a flurry of other crime and law enforcement related bills addressed during the Missouri House's special session.

The governing body also voted to end the requirement that St. Louis police live in the city. Advocates claim it will help with the department’s recruitment, but opponents say that the decision should be left up to city residents and local officials.

It is an issue that will be on the ballot for St. Louis voters in November, AP noted. If they vote to keep the residency requirement, their decision would be overturned by the state bill.

A bill championed by Parson that would allow the state attorney general to intervene in homicide cases did not pass the House.

Critics called the bill an effort to take prosecuting power away from local prosecutors, such as St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, according to the wire service.

Parson criticized the Democratic city prosecutor last month when she charged Mark and Patricia McCloskey after footage emerged of the two pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home went viral. Garner charged them with felony unlawful use of a weapon. 

Trump said that the investigation was a "disgrace" and that the couple had the right to protect their property. 

The governor accused Gardner of trying to take away the couple’s “constitutional rights” and suggested he would pardon the couple.

Gardner has dismissed the criticism she's received from Trump and Parson. She said in a statement Thursday that "while they continue to play politics with the handling of this matter, spreading misinformation and distorting the truth, I refuse to do so." 

The McCloskeys have since gained widespread attention from the video and have risen through GOP ranks, earning a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention this week.