State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, is calling on Missouri lawmakers to enact reasonable gun safety regulations in the wake of one of the worst years of gun violence in recent memory.
Chappelle-Nadal submitted Senate Bill 124, which would require gun owners to disclose what firearms are in their home to their child's school district.
See our previous story: Have a Gun? Proposed Bill Would Require You to Tell Your Child's School
Senate Bill 124 creates the offense of failing to prevent illegal firearm possession, it creates the offense of negligent storage of a firearm and it requires a parent or guardian enrolling a child in school to notify the school district or the governing body of a private or charter school that the parent or guardian owns a firearm.
“I’m pleased our nation is finally having a long-overdue discussion about our national gun culture, and I applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden for their serious proposals to address gun violence, but as a Missouri Senator, my priority must be about making our communities safe for Missouri families,” Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said during a noon press conference today.
Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said in a press release that while the nation grieves for loss of so many innocent lives lost to gun violence in Newtown, Aurora, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Atlanta and other communities, random acts of gun violence in the St. Louis area have become a disturbing fact of life.
“Since August of last year, there have been more than a dozen incidents involving teenagers and guns in just the Fourteenth Senate district alone,” Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said. “In most cases, the guns have been stolen from an unsecured place in the home and then used in robberies, car-jackings and even murder. In one instance two kids were playing with a loaded gun they found in the home and one of them was accidentally killed. In two other cases the students took the guns to school.”
Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said her bill is an attempt to reduce gun violence in urban communities and schools.
“As a member of the University City School Board, my biggest fear is a student bringing a gun to school,” Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said. “We also have too many gang members running around with weapons and settling scores with bullets. It has to stop. That’s why I included the negligent storage of a firearm provision in my legislation. If kids cannot get their hands on a gun, that gun will not end up on the street or in our schools. If you own a gun, please use a gun lock and store it in a locked gun safe, and never store ammunition in the same place as the guns.”
Under Senate Bill 124, a parent or guardian of a child under the age of 18 commits an offense by recklessly storing or leaving a firearm in a manner that is likely to result in the child accessing the firearm – if the child obtains access to the firearm and unlawfully carries it to school, kills or injures another person with it or commits a crime with it.
The offense would be a Class A misdemeanor unless the child kills or injures another person, in which case it would be a Class D felony.
“Responsible gun owners have nothing to fear from my legislation, and nobody, at least nobody in Missouri, is talking about taking anyone’s guns away,” Sen. Chappelle-Nadal said. “I simply want to make sure that children do not have easy access to guns, especially children in urban settings. I’m not talking about farm kids who learn to hunt with a rifle or a shotgun; I’m talking about gang members turning our cities into war zones or disturbed teenagers who think the only way to settle differences is to take a gun to school. There are reasonable things we can do as a society to reduce the incidences of gun violence without infringing on anybody’s right to keep and bear arms.”
St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin reports from Jefferson City that Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, called the bill 'alarming'. Nieves previously blogged about gun laws for Eureka-Wildwood Patch.