Bipartisan Pair Propose Gun Measure Across State Lines

By John Celock

This article has been updated to include comment from the National Rifle Association.

A Democratic lawmaker in Missouri and a Republican lawmaker in Kansas have teamed up to introduce legislation in both states that they say will reduce gun violence.

Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) and Kansas state Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills) have announced legislation that would require the surrender of guns for domestic violence convictions and in the case of restraining orders, along with allowing for the removal of guns on a temporary basis from those who have been deemed a threat to themselves or others. The pair, who are founding members of the American State Legislators Coalition for the Prevention of Gun Violence, are announcing the bill Friday after at a joint press conference in Kansas City, Mo., along side Jackson County, Mo. Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker (D).

“We are introducing our bill jointly in our states because of the glaring omission of either of our states have on mandatory bans or surrender of weapons for those with domestic violence convictions of mandatory restraining orders,” Newman told The Celock Report.

Newman said that part of the push for the legislation is statistics which she said showed Missouri being seventh in the United States for female homicides and Kansas being 12th on the list, noting the majority of these are committed with firearms.

“Making the top 12 in the country is unacceptable,” Newman said.

Bollier, a leading moderate Republican in Kansas, told The Celock Report that after five years in the state Legislature she wanted to take a stand on the gun violence issue. She said that one of the tipping points for her was legislation passed in Kansas last year prohibiting local governments from enacting gun regulations.

“I realized that there is some sensible gun legislation that needs to come forward. We really do need these things,” Bollier said. “People in my district at least and everywhere are crying out for sensible legislation.”

Under the terms of the legislation, those who have been convicted of certain crimes or who have threatened another with a gun could be served by a local judge with a gun violence restraining order. Under the restraining order, any guns owned by the individual would be seized by local law enforcement and a hearing would be held to determine if the guns should be returned. In addition police would be able to seize guns from those accused of domestic violence as a part of the restraining order.

“This takes guns out of the hands of people who are not thinking appropriately at the time and need a break from their weapon or weapons,” Bollier said.

Newman noted that other states have been adopting similar legislation including California, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Louisiana. She said that having other conservative leaning states adopting bills gives her hope that Missouri and Kansas could pass the bills. Conservative Republicans dominate the Legislatures in both states.

John Commerford, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association who covers both states, raised questions about the legislation.

“There is universal agreement that violent criminals and those who are dangerously mentally ill should not have access to firearms,” Commerford said. “Unfortunately, the proposed legislation does not address the core problems of the lack of prosecution of violent felons and fixing our nation’s broken mental health system.”

Newman, a Kansas native, has made gun control a top issue of hers during her service in the Legislature. Bollier, a retired physician, has become more active on the gun issue, including late last year calling on her legislative colleagues to declare gun violence a public health issue in Kansas.

“This is not anti gun, this is anti gun violence. It would be wonderful for people to see that these two things fit hand and hand,” Bollier said of the bill. “I support the Second Amendment. We have it, it will be there. In the meantime let’s try to end some bad outcomes that no one wants. We will never keep bad things from happening totally in the world. Criminals will have guns but there are things we can do to try.”

Both Bollier and Newman said they knew it would be an uphill push in both states, but said that the process needed to start. Newman said that the timing of the announcement was to coincide with the Super Bowl, when it has been said domestic violence incidents can rise.

Newman said that she and Bollier want to rally the public to their side in order to push the bill through in Jefferson City and Topeka.

“That’s why we are jointly doing this in the city we both share, to draw public attention,” Newman said. “The Super Bowl is in a couple of days. There is a myth that domestic violence rises in Super Bowl times. But one of the prime commercials to appear is a domestic violence 911 call. This is a time we can highlight what is happening. We’re going to need public opinion to help push this through the Legislature.”

Both have said that they are getting positive reaction to the bill so far, but they both expect opposition to emerge. Saying that she is “not a believer in laws for the sake of laws,” Bollier said that she plans to put an effort to get the bill passed in Kansas. She noted that she is “willing to put in the time” to get the bill passed, even if it doesn’t pass this year.

Bollier issued what could be considered a question for those who could oppose her on the bill.

“Honestly who is pro gun violence? I don’t know anybody that is,” she said.