Missouri lawmaker wants to make buying guns as hard as getting abortions

© Jim Young
Taking a cue from Missouri’s strict abortion laws, a state lawmaker filed a bill that would make obtaining a gun as difficult as obtaining an abortion, including a 72-hour waiting period, a visit to a physician, and seminars on “fatal firearm injuries.”

“Since restrictive policies regarding a constitutionally protected medical procedure are the GOP’s legislative priority each year,” state Representative Stacey Newman (D-Richmond Heights) told St. Louis magazine, “it makes sense that their same restrictions apply to those who may commit gun violence. Our city mayors and law enforcement drastically need help in saving lives.”

The bill was filed in the Missouri House on Thursday. In the addition to the three-day waiting period for purchases, buyers would be required to hear about gun violence and “alternatives to purchasing a firearm,” including “peaceful and nonviolent conflict resolution.”

“Federal laws require background checks,” Representative Newman told the Columbia Daily Tribune. “You can’t carry your gun in a courthouse in the state. There are lots of restrictions, and they are there to protect innocent people.”

Newman’s bill would also require a prospective gun buyer to visit a physician to determine whether the firearm “would increase such purchaser’s risk to experiencing an adverse physical, emotional, or other health reaction.”

Other provisions include viewing a 30-minute video on fatal firearm injuries in the presence of a licensed firearm dealer, a tour of an emergency trauma center between 10 pm and 6 am, when gun violence victims are present. During the three-day waiting period, there would be meetings with two families that are victims of gun violence and two religious leaders who officiated at the funerals of gun violence victims younger than 18.

The gun bill has been created to match the stringent rules concerning women seeking abortions in the state, where they are required to sign an informed consent form three days before having an abortion.

Under Missouri’s abortion law, a woman is offered a chance to see the ultrasound of the fetus, given a booklet on fetal development every two weeks during a pregnancy, and a list of organizations providing help to carry the pregnancy to term. The abortion provider must also provide the woman with information about possible fetal pain, and potential hazards to her health.

Under the proposed gun bill, buyers also would be required to purchase the weapon from a dealer at least 120 miles from their home. That is the average distance a woman must travel in Missouri to obtain an abortion, Newman said, according to Elle magazine.

“If these are the restrictions that are palatable for abortion, let’s apply them to people seeking a weapon in Missouri,” Newman said. “If we truly insist that Missouri cares about ‘all life,’ then we must take immediate steps to address our major cities rising rates of gun violence.”

Earlier in the week, state Senator Brian Munzlinger, (R-Williamstown) proposed repealing the ban on concealed weapons on college campuses, and told the Columbia Daily Tribune there is no reason to tie the two issues together.

“It is apples and oranges,” said Munzlinger. “There is no correlation between them.”

He said the restrictions proposed in the bill would not deter gun violence.

“Criminals don’t obey laws, and that is why they will always have the ability to have guns,” he said.

The bill is pre-filed for next year’s legislative session, according to St. Louis magazine, but Newman acknowledged her bill is destined to die in the Republican-controlled legislature.

Two years ago, lawmakers passed a bill, vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon, nullifying federal gun laws and making it a crime for federal agents to enforce those laws within the state.

“I am tired of these gun lobby proposals that say more guns are better,” Newman said. “We know that is false.”