The arrest of a Missouri Senate aide who dropped his loaded gun during a Jefferson City bar fight didn't end in tragedy, this time. But it did come with a big dose of irony. The intoxicated aide admitted to police that if he'd managed to hold onto the gun, "I woulda used it."
Yet his boss and other legislators are debating a proposal to let people carry concealed guns in a wide range of places where they're currently prohibited — including bars. This incident should serve as Exhibit A against that awful idea.
As the Post-Dispatch's Kurt Erickson reported Wednesday, Jefferson City police last week arrested Jared Brown, the chief of staff to freshman Sen. Justin Brown, R-Missouri, after a barroom altercation in which Jared Brown dropped his loaded 9 mm Ruger pistol. He was charged with unlawful use of a weapon and use of a loaded weapon while intoxicated.
Brown didn't claim his life was in danger during the fight. Nonetheless, he told officers, "I wish my gun was closer — I woulda used it."
Missouri's concealed carry law specifies public places where people generally aren't allowed to carry guns. Prohibited venues include bars, except when a patron has the bar owner's specific permission.
But legislation debated last week in the Capitol — just blocks from the site of the barroom altercation — would end that restriction, allowing any patrons to legally carry in bars, as long as they aren't intoxicated. Of course, just because armed patrons arrive at a bar sober doesn't mean they are going to remain that way.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Missouri, would also allow concealed weapons on college campuses and in churches, child care facilities, casinos, amusement parks, polling places and the meetings of public bodies.
Private businesses could choose to ban weapons. But the default presumption for such businesses — including bars — would be that guns are allowed, unless the management posts signs saying they aren't.
Proponents say this would allow people to defend themselves in those venues. But studies have found again and again that guns are rarely used in self-defense. Some show it occurs in less than 1 percent of contact crimes.
Meanwhile, there's no question that introducing guns into settings where conflicts can flare up makes it more likely those conflicts would end in death or serious injury. Bars, polling places, the meetings of public bodies — these are all settings where angry strife can arise.
By the Senate aide's own admission, the only thing that kept last week's bar fight from potential bloodshed was that he couldn't reach his gun. And the Legislature is considering letting more guns into such venues? This terrible bill should stay in its holster.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH