The GOP-controlled Missouri House passed legislation on Tuesday to end the misdemeanor crime of giving guns to children without their parents’ consent.
The move comes after Republican Governor Mike Parsons asked lawmakers to increase penalties for giving guns to minors, which is currently a misdemeanor to a felony offense.
The goal was to crack down criminals who unlawfully use firearms, then handing them off on children to avoid being caught by the police.
The House revisited the policy in question, and voiced concerns such as anyone giving a minor a firearm in good faith, such as a grandparent taking a child hunting, could be charged with a crime.
They have come up with a new version of the bill that ends the misdemeanor crime but specifically makes it a felony to give children firearms with the intent of avoiding the police.
“Those that are trying to help their grandson go hunting or something like that are not going to be wantonly charged with a crime,” argued Republican St. Louis Representative Dean Plocher.
Democrat St. Louis Representative Peter Merideth proposed an amendment to keep the misdemeanor crime for recklessly giving guns without permission was shot down in a 94-41 vote.
“We’re making it easier for people to let kids play with guns without the consent of parents,” said Merideth.
Republican bill sponsor Representative Nick Schroer pointed out that the proposed policy focuses on adults who are “victimizing our youth” and will reduce crime.
Meanwhile, Democrats slammed the proposal, arguing that all it will do is to take away control from the parents.
“Now the parent has no bearing on whether the kid gets the gun or not,” said Democratic Kansas City Representative Judy Morgan.
Other bills were passed on Tuesday, including a measure to create a fund to pay for witness protection services.