KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri is once again considering a law that would temporarily take guns out of the hands of people involved in some forms of domestic violence.
Past debates have pitted the rights of gun owners against helping prevent potentially deadly situations. But supporters of the bill say Missouri is far behind the rest of the nation.
Staff at Rose Brooks Center have to sometimes break a harsh reality to the women who come to them seeking shelter from abusive husbands or boyfriend.
“She got an order of protection, and then she said, ‘OK, when do they go pick up his weapons?'” said Annie Struby, community safety assessment coordinator at Rose Brooks. “We said, ‘I’m sorry, that’s probably not something that’s going to happen.'”
Federal law prohibits people from possessing firearms who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or have protective orders against them.
But Missouri law doesn’t.
“Our local law enforcement, our hands are really tied,” Struby said. “They can’t enforce the federal laws on that.”
St. Louis-area Rep. Stacey Newman recently introduced House Bill 1340. It would allow for the temporary removal of weapons of abusers and create extreme risk protection orders to ban people from gun ownership for a year.
She’s filed similar bills before, without any luck.
“None of my firearm bills ever even receive a public hearing, and you can thank the gun lobby in the State Capitol for that,” Newman said.
Missouri is one of the 10 deadliest states in America for women in terms of homicide, according to a Violence Policy Center report.
In 2015, 24 of the 39 women killed by men who had been identified in Missouri were wives or girlfriends of the suspect.
The Rose Brooks Center recently started tracking the more than 2,700 calls per year in the area where police determine there’s a likelihood of lethal force. They determined half of those victims had already been threatened by a firearm.
“Maybe it’s kept in the bedside table or on the bedside table so it’s visible,” Struby said. “So it’s enforcing that power and control that the abuser uses over the victim.”
“I’m just part of the mix that think people come first,” Newman said. “And if we can save lives, I have that obligation to do that.”