Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, Jan. 21, 2013
The Right to Bear Arms

Recent events have put gun control at the forefront of public debate. The president issued a number of executive orders relating to gun ownership two weeks ago. Members of Congress have since pledged to address gun control this year. It’s a hot-button issue with passionate stances on both sides.

A handful of measures were filed in the Missouri Legislature this year to reaffirm Missourians’ right to bear arms, including Senate Joint Resolution 14 and Senate Bill 150. Both bills protect Missourians’ Second Amendment rights. Senate Bill 150 also prevents federal gun regulations from being enforced in Missouri and violating the constitutional rights of our state’s citizens.

I believe in the Second Amendment. Americans have the right to bear arms. We were given that right by our Constitution, by our forefathers.  This belief is part of our American identity.

A number of national tragedies took place last year involving guns, the most horrific being the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. We should have a conversation about why these violent events keep happening in our country. If we don’t, we dishonor those who died in those senseless attacks.

But to simply lay all the blame on guns and walk away from the table prevents us from finding the real causes, and real solutions. This is a complex issue.  It’s tied up with cultural values, the role of violence in the media, the availability of mental health treatment, and a lot of other factors. There is no clear-cut cause, and there is no quick fix.

If there needs to be a debate about gun control, it should take place in state capitals between local legislators who know how the issue affects their constituents in a very real and personal way. Most importantly, any change can be put to a vote of the people. It should not be decided by career politicians in Washington. The rights of every American—rights held inalienable since the birth of our democracy—should not be decided by a select few. History has shown us how dangerous that is.

Missourians have the right to bear arms, to protect themselves and their families. In the Capitol, we will fight to ensure Missourians will always have that right.