Two suspects in recent cases involving children who were shot may not have been charged with gun related crimes because Missouri does not have a law requiring the safe storage of firearms.
According to the Giffords Law Center, Missouri law only prohibits people from illegally giving firearms to minors, but not for negligently storing them.
“Missouri does not otherwise have any laws that penalize individuals for negligently storing or leaving a firearm in a location where a child is likely to gain access to it,” the center said in a 2018 article.
Riandten Cloyd E. Brant, the suspect in last Saturday’s case, has been charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. But that’s because there allegedly were drugs in his possession and is not a weapons charge.
In a similar case, Alexzander Green was sentenced to five years probation after a young child in his care shot another young minor. The five-year sentence wasn’t related to the firearm, but for selling marijuana.
Gary Clark, the owner of GM Firearms in Wathena, Kansas, said most gun-related incidents are due to a lack of common sense.
“Having a good relationship with your kids is a good start,” Clark said. “I know when I was a young kid my parents taught me about guns. There wasn’t any kind of sneaking behind someone’s back to see what that was.”
“The other issue is simple, either keep your gun locked, keep the ammunition and the gun separate or lock one or both,” Clark said.
Commander of the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force Capt. Shawn Collie said both the Sheriff’s Department and St. Joseph Police Department give away free gun locks that prevent semi-automatic weapons from firing.
Collie said storage is a gun owner’s first line of defense against an accident, but teaching kids to respect guns is another crucial tactic.
“A lot of it boils down to irresponsibility on how that firearm is being stored,” Collie said. “There’s programs here in St. Joe that will actually go through and teach kids what you do if you come across a gun.”
“That knowledge and communication, that’s what’s going to keep your children or the children of the community safe,” he said.
Those who want to participate in a training program are asked to contact either the police department or the sheriff’s office, according to Collie.