COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s Republican-led House passed this week a bill that would allow guns in churches and on public transportation.
House lawmakers voted 109-36 in favor of the proposal, which now goes to the GOP-led Senate for consideration.
Currently, people need permission from religious leaders to bring firearms into places of religious worship in Missouri. The pending bill would allow people with concealed carry permits to bring guns into churches, synagogues and mosques, and onto public transportation.
Missouri doesn’t require a concealed carry permit for gun ownership, but having a permit allows gun owners to bring their weapons into some otherwise restricted areas in the state.
Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, said the measure would take away religious leaders’ freedom to decide whether to allow weapons in places of worship.
Picker Neiss also cited the 2018 shooting massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, where 11 congregants were killed in what was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
“We know what it is to see people attacked during worship services,” she said. “And we don’t think that worshippers with guns is going to be the answer to that.”
Another provision in the bill would ensure that gun stores are considered “essential” businesses, meaning the state and cities couldn’t order them closed during emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet another part of the bill would allow 18-year-olds to get concealed carry permits, which currently are available only to people at least 19 years old or 18-year-olds in the military.
The bill also would make it a felony to fire a gun in city limits, with a number of exceptions.