JEFFERSON CITY — In a sign of the close ties between Missouri politics and the state’s gun culture, the use of lethal weapons as a campaign tool goes deeper than photos of candidates shooting guns fire.
According to state campaign finance records, Missouri politicians have spent more than $34,000 over the past five years to purchase firearms to donate as campaign fundraising items.
Records show politicians could be on the verge of setting a record this year. In the first three months of 2022, election candidates spent $7,687 on guns for raffles, putting them on track to surpass 2014, where $20,485 was spent across the board. year.
“In my region, everyone loves guns. Whenever you go anywhere there is always a gun up for grabs. It’s always just been mainstream,” Rep. Andrew McDanielR-Deering, told the Post-Dispatch earlier.
The Bootheel area legislator once introduced legislation requiring everyone between the ages of 18 and 35 to have an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. He later said it was meant to bait gun control advocates and the measure never moved forward.
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The gun spending comes as the nation is once again grappling with the horror of a mass shooter taking innocent lives. The latest incident in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Unlike in previous years, Missouri’s GOP-controlled legislature did not send any significant gun legislation to Republican Gov. Mike Parson during its annual session.
But in recent years, the Republican supermajority has eased restrictions on gun ownership and passed a law allowing people to sue local law enforcement if they believe police have interfered with their rights. of the second amendment.
The measure, called the Second Amendment Preservation Act, was signed by Gov. Mike Parson at a gun store last year.
Pro-gun forces unsuccessfully pushed for legislation this spring that would have expanded the use of deadly force. Opponents, including local prosecutors, called it the “Make Murder Legal Act”.
They also failed once again to push the finish line on legislation that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in churches and on public transport.
Both items are expected to be back before Parliament next year.
Among state lawmakers who have held gun raffles is Rep. Chuck BasyeR-Rocheport, who wrote a campaign check for $1,747 for firearms for future fundraisers.
Basye has a term limit and cannot run for another term in the House.
In 2021, Rep. Barry HovisR-Whitewater, spent $1,600 on guns for raffles.
Not all expenses were for the purchase of a firearm. representing Hannah KellyR-Norwood, spent $120 in 2020 to buy a gun club membership to do a photoshoot for a campaign ad.
representing Tony LovascoR-O’Fallon, said he spent $25 in 2018 to buy a table at a gun show in Wentzville.
Former Governor Eric Greitens, who is now a candidate for the US Senate, made waves during his candidacy in 2016 by detonating a military-style machine gun as part of his branding as a former Navy Seal pro- gun.
Six years and a resignation later, Greitens is once again using guns as a campaign tool.
In late April, Greitens posted a video of himself and Donald Trump Jr. firing guns at an outdoor shooting range.
The video was titled, “Instilling Fear in the Hearts of Liberals, RINOs, and Fake Media.”