ST. LOUIS – As the investigation continues into last week’s school shooting in St. Louis, some Missouri lawmakers hope gun control legislation will take priority in the state’s next legislative session.

Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D – District 132) and several others signed a letter sent to Gov. Mike Parson’s office on Thursday. The group suggests three specific courses of action in the letter to prevent tragedies like last week in Missouri: Universal background checks, strengthened extreme-risk protection orders and repealing the Second Amendment Preservation Act.

“Contrary to the governor’s assertion in media interviews after this tragedy, strong state laws could have made a difference and even prevented it from taking place,” the letter states.

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A 19-year-old gunman killed two people on Oct. 24 in a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. Police later shot and killed the gunman, who hurt several others in the incident.

On Oct. 15, the family of the gunman reported to police that he had acquired an AR-15-style rifle from a private seller after an FBI background check stopped him from buying a weapon from a licensed dealer earlier in October. 

The family hoped officers would either seize the weapon or transfer it elsewhere. The gun ended up with a third party, then eventually ended up back in the gunman’s hands. St. Louis police say they could not take possession of the weapon at the time due to Missouri’s lack of a red flag law.

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Parson signed the Second Amendment Preservation Act into law last year, which could lead to $50,000 fines for police departments if they navigate around state law to retrieve firearms. Some state lawmakers plan to counter that and pre-file ‘red flag law’ legislation next month. Beyond that, the letter says more can be done to address gun control.

“Gun violence has plagued Missouri under Republican control of the legislature, and its unwillingness or inability to see that facts puts Missourians at risk,” the letter states.

Quade contends that the letter is worthy of a special session, though asks Parson and future House Majority Speaker Dean Plocher to tackle the issue early in the next legislative come January.

“While we will never eliminate gun violence entirely, we can mitigate it by establishing safeguards and protections that recognize the unique power of firearms and the danger they pose in unstable hands,” the letter states. “You have the power to undo the harm that has been done, to work towards a safer Missouri. We urge you to put the people of this state first. We urge you to use your power to protect them.”

Quade, along with Missouri State Reps. Richard Brown, Doug Clemens, Ingrid Burnett, LaKeySha Bosley and Sarah Unsicker, signed the letter. Lawmakers can prefile legislation for Missouri’s 2023 legislative session as soon as Dec. 1.