St. Louis County prosecutors filed a second-degree murder charge Tuesday in the bizarre case of a bar argument about a dog’s weight that ended with the shooting death of a father of three. The case is emblematic of the state’s dangerously lax gun laws, which are on the verge of becoming even more lax and dangerous.
It’s hard to believe that the state’s gun laws could get any worse, but House Bill 1936 would do the trick.
After a delay following the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., high school killings, the House General Laws Committee advanced a bill to ease restrictions against carrying concealed firearms into bars, churches, day-care centers and casinos. Those rights would extend to the campuses of public colleges and universities if the institution’s governing board agrees.
The bill would remove prohibitions against carrying weapons into amusement parks, possibly including the St. Louis Zoo. Private businesses could still set firearms restrictions on their own premises, but other public facilities like hospitals might not. It removes restrictions against carrying concealed weapons onto buses.
Also, penalties would be lessened for carrying concealed firearms into the few places where they are still prohibited.
The bill specifically applies to concealed-carry permit holders, but since the Legislature passed “constitutional carry” in 2016 — eliminating the need for some gun permits or gun-safety training — you may not need a permit if the bill by Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, passes.
Missouri gun laws are nuts in many ways, including a 2014 statewide constitutional amendment stipulating an “unalienable right” to bear arms. The state Supreme Court had to rule out convicted felons.
Then there’s the expanded “stand your ground” law that went into effect last year. Pretty much anyone anywhere can legally shoot another person if he reasonably fears his life is in danger from deadly force.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch had to plow through the stand-your-ground law before charging Neal Myers, 54, with the Feb. 7 killing of Scott Beary, 43, at Show-Me’s Sports Bar & Grill in Florissant. Witness and video accounts differ in some aspects, but McCulloch determined that Myers should be charged with second-degree murder in the incident, which involved an argument over an alleged 290-pound dog.
Beary reportedly had attempted to make up with Myers as they were exiting the bar. Witness accounts differ on whether Myers went to the parking lot to retrieve a weapon or had it with him.
If Show-Me’s is a bar, where guns are currently outlawed, Myers might not have stand-your-ground protections under the law. If it’s a bar-and-grill that makes most of its money from selling food, it has to have a sign prohibiting firearms. A McCulloch spokesman said it didn’t.
Bad laws can and do have life-or-death consequences. Missouri lawmakers, you’ve done quite enough damage already. Kill HB 1936.
Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.