State Sen. Dave Schatz says the recent gun violence across the country needs to be addressed, but shouldn’t lead to a knee-jerk reaction by lawmakers.
Schatz, a pro-gun Republican from Sullivan, with an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), visited The Missourian last week to talk about gun control and several other issues facing the state and the Legislature.
“I don’t know what would be the right response,” Schatz said. “Bad actions don’t mean we should make bad laws.”
Missouri has some of the most lax gun control laws in the nation and just two years ago Schatz proposed legislation that would make it easier for residents to renew their concealed carry permits.
His bill was eventually added to a larger bill that got rid of the required permits altogether and now allows any resident to carry a concealed weapon without any formal training or a license.
“We all believe it is a basic right,” Schatz said. “I don’t know how we can limit it without being restrictive.”
Schatz blames the uptick in gun violence on the crumbling of Christian values and absence of religion in the last 40 years.
“Most people don’t value human life,” Schatz said. “The heart of man is evil and it shows when we don’t value human life at birth.”
He added although Missouri Republicans covet the NRA ratings, at the same time lawmakers are not beholden to them.
“They don’t really have a lobbying presence at the state Capitol,” Schatz said. “If there is a gun bill going through we will see them.”
As far as new gun control legislation at the state level, Schatz said there is little chance it would make it out of the Republican-controlled committees in both the House and Senate, but he and other lawmakers would consider some commonsense proposals.
Despite spearheading Gov. Mike Parson’s $350 million bond plan to fix dozens of Missouri roads and bridges, Schatz says more needs to be done to secure funds for transportation infrastructure improvements into the future.
“It’s the biggest problem we have now,” Schatz said. “I don’t think there is anything we can pass to get more money.”
He added the voter rejection of Proposition D last year to raise the motor fuel tax further hindered the Legislature’s efforts to fix the crumbling roads and bridges.
“More than 1 million people voted in favor of Prop D, which would have been enough to pass any other measure,” Schatz said. “If we would have raised the motor fuel tax just 2 cents per year once it was fully funded it would only cost the taxpayers $8 to $10 per month extra.”
He added since 2020 will be an election year there is little chance of any new tax bills being presented in the legislative session that will begin in early January.
“It’s really about timing and what options are out there,” he said.
One of the few pieces of legislation Schatz sponsored last year was regarding the video lottery terminals that he says are illegal and taking away revenues from the state.
Although the legislation did not progress as he would have liked, Schatz is continuing his crusade to get the slot machines either banned or regulated by the Missouri Gaming Commission.
“There is no law on the books now, but we are working with prosecutors to put pressure on the places that have these illegal machines,” Schatz said. “The only places slot machines are legal are in casinos. Plus with no regulation, the companies are making big money and there is really no guarantee the payouts and jackpots are even there if someone does win.”
Like the gun issues, Schatz feels the fight against the slot machines is not only monetary, but a fight for morality as well.
“The majority of the clientele using these machines really shouldn’t be,” he said. “It’s not a good spend of their money they could be using in a more beneficial way to their families.”