State representatives push to close loophole allowing domestic violence offenders to have guns

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Two bills in the State House of Representatives aim to close a loophole that made it easier for domestic abusers to have guns.

That loophole, legislators say, was inadvertently created in 2016 when the legislature passed a house bill dealing with concealed carry. But now, a representative from the Republicans and Democrats have both sponsored a bill that would close that loophole.

"Federal law already exists with this exact same language, so what we're trying to do it put this into state law as well," said St. Louis Democrat, Representative Tracy McCreery.

The bill sponsored by McCreery would make it illegal for anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to have a gun.

However, "it would still allow for constitutional carry, so people would still be able to carry weapons," McCreery said.

Local law enforcement wouldn't be able to proactively confiscate the gun. There would have to be another reason, such as a traffic stop, to take the weapon, which mirrors federal law.

"This would empower local law enforcement and local prosecutors to do what's best for us here in Missouri," McCreery said.

"People say, 'well, this is a misdemeanor.' This is a misdemeanor in domestic assault. There is a difference there," said Cape Girardeau Republican, Representative Donna Lichtenegger.

Lictenegger, who has also filed a similar bill, says she is a gun owner herself and calls herself a "proud life member of the NRA."

Lichtenegger has personal reasons on why she feels closing this loophole is important.

"I watched my mother get abused at a very young age. Then when I was 15 or 16, I was domestically abused, and I do have scars from that on my head," Lichtenegger said.

So, why are there similar bills filed by representatives in each party? McCreery says protecting victims is always bipartisan.

"I think as public policy makers, we need to be doing everything we can do to protect victims and their children from their abusers," McCreery said. "It's as clear cut as that. It's a matter of life and death."

Neither bill has reached the House floor for a vote, both representatives are hopeful if one does, it should pass.

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