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Ambiguity in Current Missouri Law Increases Lethality for Victims

A domestic violence homicide incident in Kansas City highlights that Missouri lawmakers should continue to work on bipartisan efforts to close loopholes that currently allow abusers to possess firearms when an Order of Protection is in effect. For more than 20 years, MCADSV has supported replicating the federal firearm prohibitions for domestic violence offenders into state law. Missouri ranks 10th in the nation as one of the deadliest states in terms of women killed by their male partners, with the majority of those homicides involving firearms.

Federal law, effective since 1997, prohibits a person who is the respondent of a full Order of Protection, or a person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, from purchasing, possessing, owning, transporting, shipping or receiving firearms or ammunition. This law was upheld twice by the United States Supreme Court.

Currently, Missouri has no state law on domestic violence and firearms that parallels this federal law.

This means that Missouri law enforcement officers and prosecutors do not have legal jurisdiction to enforce federal gun laws relative to domestic violence offenders. Judges can add a provision to the Order of Protection form issued by the Missouri Office of State Courts Administrator to invoke the firearm prohibitions. However, judges do not consistently invoke firearm prohibitions because some believe they cannot do so unless state law changes. A 2016 omnibus bill, Senate Bill 656, changed state law to allow Missourians to conceal and carry without a permit. The enactment of this law effectively made the concealed weapons permit process irrelevant; this is the only Missouri law that places restrictions on gun possession by convicted domestic violence misdemeanor offenders and respondents to Full Orders of Protection. This led to strong support from lawmakers to fix the loophole with a first-time committee unanimous vote on a bill to replicate federal law during the 2018 legislative session.

These protections are not only a bipartisan issue; they are a Missouri value.

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