According to a recent New York Times article, Missouri’s loosened gun laws have proven to have an adverse affect on gun killings and gun crimes as they continue to increase. Sabrina Tavernise paints a startling depiction of the realities that have crept into society within the south midwestern state following changes in gun policy that took place in 2007. For over a decade prior to the changes, Missourians were subject to an extensive, in-person background check within a state’s sheriff office in order to acquire a gun permit. But in 2007 the legislature repealed this process and made several other radical changes to gun policies. In addition, Missouri also lowered the legal age to carry a concealed gun to 19. Tavernise goes on to explore how Missouri’s loosened gun laws have proven to be a natural example for all other states regarding gun policy.
With data collected by Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, Tavernise points out some disturbing statistics. First, despite an 11% decrease in the national gun homicide rates in the six years following Missouri’s changes, the state’s rates adversely increased by 16%. In addition, between 1999-2006 Missouri’s gun homicide rate was 13.8% above the national rate and between 2008-2014 Missouri’s gun homicide rate was a shocking 47% above the national rate. These statistics give only a peek into the negative effects the loosened gun laws have had on the state and the safety of its’ population. While there are a few researchers who find the data slightly dramatic, the general consensus among scholars is that the increased rates are due to the loosed gun policies.
Sly James Jr., the mayor of Kansas City, has been a huge advocate for abolishing the changes and reestablishing many of the gun policies that were eliminated in 2007. He labeled the increasing fun homicide rates in the city as “slow-motion mass murder.” Despite his best efforts, not many other politicians within the state agree with his desire to tighten the laws.
Tavernise implies the disturbing realities we can take away from Missouri’s changes in gun policy. I believe that while not all data can be definitely conclusive and point solely to gun policies for increased homicide rates and violence, we cannot ignore the obvious effects it has had on the state. We as a country cannot turn a blind eye to the example Missouri has proven to be over the past few years.