Opposing HB 1936

As an Episcopalian in Missouri, I want to share my profound dismay that the Missouri General Assembly is continuing to consider the expansion of the state’s conceal and carry laws and our strong opposition to HB 1936.

That concealed weapons would be allowed on university campuses and in bars — locations where alcohol frequently impairs judgement — without the ability to “opt out” or post a prohibition is incredibly dangerous and clearly infringes on the overwhelming majority of university students, faculty, administrators and bar patrons who oppose the policy and personal self-defense arguments proffered in HB 1936.

Furthermore, churches and other houses of worship have long advocated nonviolence and been a safe and steadfast presence in communities throughout our state.  We respect the right of our members to legally own and use guns for hunting and sport.  But as religious organizations, we treasure the separation of church and state and reserve the absolute right to determine whether concealed weapons are to be allowed on our private property.  Perhaps, there are some faith communities who approve of conceal and carry in their facilities.  And, while I might be saddened by and disagree with their theology and logic, I respect their position.  Similarly, as a matter of the theology of nonviolence shared by the vast majority of people of faith and the Constitutional separation of church and state, we expect our rights to be honored as well.

Finally, I must challenge the seriously flawed assumption of self-defense embodied in HB 1936.  Research has demonstrated that trained police officers hit their intended target only a quarter of the time when they fire their weapons in the midst of a criminal encounter.  That students and teachers in crowded classrooms, reveling patrons in bars and the faithful focused on worship would improve on those results is at best naïve and at worst likely lethal to their unintended targets.

I strongly urge you to remove HB 1936 from consideration by the General Assembly.  Further discussion will simply obscure the underlying social, political, economic, racial and psychological factors which contribute to gun violence and preclude the development of evidenced-based, sensible strategies to address this continuing, tragic epidemic.

Please know that you are in my prayers as you deliberate this serious issue.