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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Missouri’s gun law weaknesses remain prevalent

Quinton Blackburn

Missouri has some of the weakest gun laws in the country, ranking the fifth highest rate of gun deaths in the U.S.. According to EveryStat, “the rate of gun deaths in Missouri increased 56% from 2009 to 2018, compared to an 18% increase over this same time period nationwide.”

The rate of gun violence in Missouri is partially due to the fact that red-flag laws and gun observance programs can not be executed. This is because, as reported by The Kansas City Beacon, “Missouri passed the Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA), which bars local law officials from enforcing federal gun policy and could fine them for doing so.” Despite the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the Missouri statute in Feb. 2022, the case has yet to be settled, leaving SAPA still in effect. 

These high rates of gun violence in Missouri appear to have an impact on students — RBHS senior Emily Ryan said it influenced her future collegiate decisions, pushing her out of the state entirely.

“The fact that Missouri has weak gun laws and is in fifth place for gun violence rates is both equally sad and terrifying.”

— senior Emily Ryan

While 2024 has just begun, there have already been two mass shootings and a school shooting in Missouri. In January, gunfire broke out in a Kansas City mall, damaging property and injuring six people. Not long after, violence broke out in St. Louis, as multiple deadly shootings were reported in the span of one weekend. EveryStat said, “In an average year, 1,160 people die by guns in Missouri, with a rate of 18.9 deaths per 100,000 people.” 

Furthermore, at the start of the year on Jan. 4, a school shooting occurred at Perry High School in Iowa, leaving one person dead and five injured. This event was devastating but not surprising considering how frequent school shootings are in the U.S.. According to The Washington Post, there have been 394 school shootings nation wide  since 1999, and it doesn’t seem like the numbers are decreasing much.

RBHS sophomore Ahlam Alamin said the occurrence of another school shooting in the U.S. has disappointed her and made her think about what schools in Missouri should be doing in regards to their students’ safety.

“In [the] midst of gun culture, the Perry High School shooting disappoints me [because of] how easy it is for a 17-year-old to obtain a rifle,” Alamin said. “It makes me wonder, should every school in Missouri take extra precautions to prevent a mass shooting at a school?”

Furthermore, RBHS Outreach Counselor Lesley Thalhuber said she noticed a shift in the amount of people conversing about current mass shooting incidents. While Missouri’s levels of gun violence are increasing, she said the number of students talking about it has actually gone down. Ryan agreed, saying that school shootings have become more normalized in the U.S. than any other place. 

“In the past, when a school shooting would occur, there were conversations happening with frequency,” Thalhuber said. “I seriously began wondering after the last incident in our neighboring state, Iowa, why the major shift had occurred over the past few years. Is it because we need to avoid the topic in order to keep coming to school and hoping it doesn’t happen here? Is it because we have become desensitized?”

The frequency of school shootings nationwide has led RBHS to take extra precautions such as training with the fire department and putting in extra layers of protection to keep their students safe. RBHS Resource Officer Andrew Gilstrap said new metal detectors in some CPS schools are to be expected soon. 

“The student organization [Students for Change] at Hickman [High School] wanted to bring in metal detectors,” Gilstrap said, “We are working on the funding, [finding] which one to use, and then all high schools in the city will have them.

On a more national level, Ryan thinks there should be heavier gun laws and longer safety training before being allowed to obtain a weapon. She said it is “really scary” how easily an adult can get a gun in the U.S..

“In my opinion, there’s two things that can reduce gun violence issues in this country: one being easier access to mental health facilities and [the] stigma surrounding mental illness should end,” Ryan said. “The main thing is the government putting laws in place that ban certain assault weapons and rifles, [along with] laws that make it harder to obtain a gun, carry it on you and bring it into any buildings.” 

The year 2024 began with “extremist lawmakers in Missouri have prioritized introducing incredibly dangerous gun laws that could put Missourians in danger,” according to Everytown. They also wrote that this includes House Bill 1708, which lowered the age requirement to carry a concealed firearm from 19 to 18, and “would also force guns in houses of worship, public transportation, including buses and trains, by allowing people with concealed carry permits to carry a firearm on public transit.” Nevertheless, Alamin agreed with Ryan, saying she thinks the best way to end gun violence and death by weapons is to ban them entirely.

“I believe there is only one way to limit gun violence: to get rid of them,” Alamin said. “Though I understand that guns can be used for hunting and law enforcement, the excessive amount of guns in our country makes us vulnerable to more attacks.”

What do you think about Missouri’s gun laws? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Contributors
Natalya Horstmeier
Natalya Horstmeier, Staff Writer
Sophomore Natalya Horstmeier is a staff writer for Southpaw and Bearing News. She loves cooking, reading, coloring and plants. She has 2 dogs, 2 cats, and is about to adopt a new kitten.
Quinton Blackburn
Quinton Blackburn, Staff Artist
Junior Quinton Blackburn is a staff artist for Rock Bridge Bearing News. He is a Columbia Performing Arts Center member and in his free time loves to draw and dance.

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