SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Leaders in Springfield are starting the conversation on how to curb gun violence in the city, in the wake of Uvalde and multiple other mass shootings across the country.
The discussion was led by City Council member Craig Hosmer, who argued the city needs to be as prepared as possible to face the rise in mass shootings the United States has seen in the past year.
“We’ve had 250 mass shootings in this country this year, and to believe that we’re immune to it here in Springfield is a mistake,” Hosmer said.
Hosmer called for the city officials of Springfield to urge action against laws that allow those under 21 to legally purchase guns.
“Maybe we should look at whether an 18-year-old should be able to buy a weapon,” Hosmer said. “Parkland, Santa Fe, Newtown, Columbine, Uvalde; all shooters were under 21. We’ve passed legislation to not let people buy cigarettes in Springfield until they’re 21, you can’t buy alcohol in Springfield until you’re 21… for us to believe it’s not going to happen here, we are sadly mistaken.”
The gunman who killed nineteen students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, legally purchased two AR-style rifles shortly after his 18th birthday in the week before the shooting.
The City of Springfield currently can’t do much in the way of enforcing its own restrictions due to laws passed by the state legislature. State statute says no city, town, or municipality can approve an ordinance regarding the sale, purchase, permit, or regulation of a firearm. Background checks are not required for Missourians to purchase an unlicensed gun, and anyone at any age is legally allowed to open carry.
“I know the legislature preempted this issue and said the city councils and other subdivisions of state government can’t do anything to restrict guns or the use of guns or where you can carry guns or how you can get guns, but there are a lot of things that I think the majority of people in this country support,” Hosmer said. “I think that we need to have our legislative agenda reflect what is needed to protect this community.”
Hosmer argued that the City of Springfield needs to initiate a conversation with the state in a show of broad support for tighter laws around gun ownership.
“For us to sit and not do anything or feel like we don’t have any power when we do, we can make that part of our legislative agenda and I think we should,” Hosmer said. “We need to be more direct to the people that can do something, and Jefferson City can do something, and should do something. And I hope that we’re part of that solution.”
Last year, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed into law the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which would prohibit any state or local law enforcement from cooperating with federal officials in any action which would violate the “Second Amendment rights of Missourians,” according to Parson’s press release about the signing.
Various Missouri police departments voiced their concern with the bill before it was passed, with Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott saying in January 2021 that the bill was “well-intended but misguided.” O’Fallon’s then-police chief Philip Dupuis resigned from the department following the bill’s passing, saying it was poorly worded and would lead to unintended consequences.
The state of Missouri is currently being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for passing the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which they argue is invalid and violates constitutional law preventing state governments from enacting laws that conflict or usurp federal law.
During the petitions, remonstrances and communications portion of the City Council meeting, Springfield Mayor Ken McClure agreed that the city of Springfield would recognize National Gun Violence Day on Friday, June 3.
“I issued a proclamation last year, I’m happy to do one this year as well,” McClure said.