On Tuesday, over 400 volunteers with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Students Demand Action, both a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, urged lawmakers to take action to help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers – making it the largest advocacy day to date in Missouri and one of the largest advocacy days in the country.
The day began with a speaking portion with survivors, volunteers, community partners, and retired St. Louis Police Chief Daniel Isom sharing their experiences and highlighting why it’s so important to pass domestic violence legislation in Missouri. Afterwards, volunteers – representing all 34 Senate districts – held meetings with their legislators to push for common sense gun safety legislation.
KTVI – St. Louis reported:
“‘There is nothing better than being able to sit face-to-face and talk about what it is that is important to you and your families and your communities,’ said Moms Demand Action volunteer Scott Randolph.
There are federal laws prohibiting domestic abusers from being in possession of firearms but former St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom believes passing similar state laws will help victims.
‘It helps domestic violence victims have the courage to come forward but it also helps officers to remove guns out of the individuals’ hands who are dangerous and who could further victimize them,’ Isom said.”
St. Louis Public Radio reported:
“Leslie Washington, who is from southeast Missouri, said she was in an abusive relationship for nearly a decade. Even after the separation, she feared for her life.
At the rally, Washington spoke about Missouri’s “lax gun laws” and called on lawmakers to fulfill their “responsibility” to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Because she knew her abuser had access to a firearm, Washington said she never felt safe.
‘Even though he had a history of abuse and was a convicted felon, the fact that he carried a firearm haunted me,’ Washington said, ‘causing me to look over my shoulder wherever I went. It felt like I was being punished.’”
Jefferson City News Tribune reported:
“‘Women who are in domestic abuse situations whose partner has a gun — they’re five times more likely to be shot and killed,’ [Mary Chen of Jefferson City] told [Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville] as they crowded into his office. ‘That’s our top concern.’
Statistics show violent partners shot and killed more than 50 women in Missouri in 2018, group members told Veit. They also pointed out police officers are four times more likely to be killed while responding to a domestic violence call than all other calls.
‘What we’re really wanting to do is ask our Missouri lawmakers to focus on a bill that could be helpful and lower gun violence in Missouri,’[Susan Randolph, a volunteer and Jefferson City resident] said.”
Last summer, Governor Parson announced his support for gun safety legislation that would prohibit domestic abusers from possessing firearms. Yet Missouri lawmakers have not made strides to pass a domestic violence bill, and Governor Parson has since reversed his position.
The rate of gun deaths in Missouri increased 55 percent in the last decade, compared to a 17 percent increase nationwide. Over 1000 Missourians are shot and killed every year, giving Missouri the eighth highest rate of gun deaths in the United States. Additionally, from 2013 to 2017, 87 women were fatally shot by an intimate partner in Missouri.
Here are some photos from the Missouri chapter’s advocacy day:
Statistics about gun violence in Missouri are available here, and information on how Missouri’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.
If you have any questions, or would like to speak with volunteers with Missouri Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action or survivors of gun violence, please don’t hesitate to reach out.