AR-15 for everyone??

Proposed Missouri gun legislation is irresponsible, waste of taxpayer resources.


State Rep. Andrew C. McDaniel for District 150/Facebook

Andrew McDaniel, a Republican Missouri Representative, poses in a gun shop. He has proposed two bills which would require Missourians age 18-35 to own a gun.

A Missouri gun law proposed in February by state Representative Andrew McDaniel, titled the “McDaniel Militia Act,” has been causing an uproar among gun reform activists and shooting victims throughout the United States.

The proposal, which would require all residents of Missouri between the ages of 18 and 35 to purchase and own an AR-15-style rifle, would also include the creation of a state tax credit, capped at $1 million dollars annually, to provide purchasers a tax credit for up to 75 percent of the gun’s cost.

And surprisingly, this is not the only bill proposed by McDaniel regarding Missouri gun laws and regulations. Another act proposed by McDaniel, titled the “McDaniel Second Amendment Act,” would as stated in the proposal, “require[…] every person 21 years of age or older who can legally possess a firearm to own a handgun.”

Both proposed bills do have an exception, though, which exempts any residents not legally permitted to possess firearms from complying with the laws. As for residents who simply don’t want to purchase or own a firearm; the penalties for non-compliance are unclear, as punishments for refusal are not detailed or even addressed in either proposal.

Although both bills are not slated to be scheduled for a vote as of now, and neither has even been signed for a committee, the proposals are already becoming targets for gun reformers and shooting victims, and for good reason. After the March 15 mass shooting in the Christchurch Mosque that killed 50 people, McDaniel has attempted to walk back his legislation, explaining to the media that he doesn’t actually support his own bill, and that he used the bill as an attempt to “bait the Left.” If he doesn’t support his own bill, why would he bring it up, and waste Missourians’ time and money?

McDaniel and his supporters must think that, if every adult in Missouri owned a gun, potential crime could be avoided or limited. This thinking is flawed, however, because many people who think about committing crime are not thinking rationally in the first place, and will not stop simply because they think the potential victim may be armed. In addition, more guns on the streets will lead to more accidents, and more guns getting into the wrong hands.

The laws proposed by McDaniel are evidently wildly unrealistic in their goals, but also serve little purpose in attempting to solve the issues regarding gun ownership policies in Missouri, or in the United States as a whole. Not only do the proposals reflect poorly on the attitude of lawmakers towards gun regulations in a time when tensions involving shootings in the United States is at an all-time high, but they also do very little to combat the problems of public safety, while wasting valuable resources and time on something ultimately unnecessary.

Most importantly, the proposed bills are not realistic. The concept of forcing a population of roughly 3.6 million residents to purchase an AR-15-style rifle would encourage over a million new rifle purchases, and would be almost impossible to enforce.

There’s a good reason why so few laws requiring residents to own a specific item exist–they’re nearly impossible to effectuate. This, paired with McDaniel’s limited information on how said laws would be enforced, or what punishments for refusal to comply would be administered, helps to cement the absurdity of these proposals and their implementations.

Not to mention, the $1 million annual tax credit would likely be exhausted if so many residents were forced to purchase a gun. This would, in turn, create another problem of how to enforce a law that costs more than residents can afford, and would end up costing more for the state of Missouri to arm so many citizens.

Apart from unrealistic and poorly defined goals, though, the proposals would do very little to combat the public safety issues in Missouri and have a high probability of creating more violence by enabling access to guns to those who really shouldn’t possess them.

Forcing guns onto residents isn’t the answer to limiting gun violence or improving public safety. Even if more people did have ownership of a firearm, it’s unlikely that they would always have the gun on them in case of an emergency, or would even use them appropriately. For those with limited knowledge of firearms or experience using them, making gun ownership a requirement could cause harm to more people than if ownership was simply limited or better regulated.

In other ways, guns getting into the wrong hands could be detrimental to the safety of countless people. In many of the most horrific cases of gun violence and mass shootings in the United States, the perpetrators had some form of mental illness.

The perpetrator of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Adam Lanza, was motivated by mental health issues. In 2007, the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, was also suffering from mental health issues. More recently, the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was also seemingly afflicted with many mental health issues. These cases of mass shootings are only a few of the many which have claimed lives in recent years, in which the perpetrators were mentally ill, and possessed guns which they shouldn’t have had in the first place.

Although it’s difficult to say if implementing laws like the ones proposed by McDaniel would increase the numbers of shootings or amount gun violence in Missouri, having more people not only own, but be forced legally to own, firearms would not improve the levels of public safety, but would increase the chances of incidents already common without the laws.

In all, these proposed bills would not do what they are supposedly intended to do. Aside from reflecting poorly on Missouri lawmakers, not being realistic, and not being altogether clear in it’s intentions, the laws would also set back the work of those trying to reform gun laws in the United States, and would be a massive slap in the face to those who have been affected by gun violence.

If representatives and lawmakers want to make Missouri safer, they need to think beyond adding more weapons to the equation. The only way to help combat gun violence is to improve regulations and to educate more people- not force them to buy a gun of their own.