via Flickr/Rod Waddington
Want to buy a gun? If Rep. Stacey Newman's bill passes, you'll have to jump through the same legal hoops as women seeking abortion services.
Missouri is home to some of the strictest requirements on abortion in the U.S., including a 72-hour waiting period and mandatory, state-directed counseling.
Missouri is also home to some disturbingly high gun crime rates. St. Louis and Kansas City each rank in the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest rates of gun violence, and a recent report showed that toddlers shot more people in Missouri than in any other state.
A new bill from State Rep. Stacey Newman attempts to tackle Missouri’s gun violence problem by applying the restrictions placed on women seeking abortion services to all prospective firearm purchasers, such as a requirement that anyone buying a gun first watch a 30-minute video on fatal firearm injuries.
“Since Missouri holds the rank as one of the strictest abortion regulation states in the country, it is logical we borrow similar restrictions to lower our horrific gun violence rates,” Newman said in a statement.
The bill, pre-filed Tuesday for the 2016 session, is doomed to die in Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature, something that Newman knows perfectly well. The Richmond Heights representative has tried similar tactics before, including an unsuccessful bill to limit vasectomies only to cases where the man’s life or safety are at risk.
But at a time when frequent mass shootings, such as Wednesday’s San Bernardino shooting that killed 14 people, have more Americans speaking up about access to firearms, Newman’s bill comes across less as an activist stunt than as a concerning contrast in legislative approaches to two public health issues.
House Bill 1397 says that before Missourians could buy a gun, they’d have to:
- Meet with a licensed physician to discuss the risks of gun ownership at least 72 hours before attempting to buy a gun and obtain a written notice approval.
- Buy the gun from a licensed gun dealer located at least 120 miles from the purchaser’s legal residence.
- Review the medical risks associated with firearms, including photographs of fatal firearm injuries, and the alternatives to purchasing a firearm, including “materials about peaceful and nonviolent conflict resolution,” with the gun dealer orally and in writing.
- Watch a 30-minute video about fatal firearm injuries. (This requirement mirrors House Bill 124 from last year, which would have required women to watch a video with information about abortion they’re already required to receive from doctors orally and in writing.)
- Tour an emergency trauma center at the nearest qualified urban hospital on a weekend between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., when gun violence victims are present, and get written verification from a doctor.
- Meet with at least two families who have been victims of gun violence and two local faith leaders who have officiated, within the last year, a funeral for a victim of gun violence who was under the age of 18.
“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,” Newman said. “Popular proposals among voters, including universal background checks and restricting weapons from abuser and convicted felons, are consistently ignored each session. Since restrictive policies regarding a constitutionally protected medical procedure are the GOP’s legislative priority each year, 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.”