Gov. Mike Parsons sought to increase the penalty for the crime, which is currently a misdemeanor, but the GOP-dominated state House disagreed. Parsons, also a Republican, had asked lawmakers to increase the penalty to a felony offense during a special session last month to address gun violence.
The intent, he said, was to crack down on criminals who commit gun crimes and then hand the weapons over to minors to avoid being caught. Republicans voiced concerns about the bill, saying anyone who gives a minor a firearm in good faith, such as a grandparent who takes a child hunting without parent permission, could be charged with a crime.
The newest version of the bill would end the misdemeanor crime but would make it a felony to give firearms to children with the intent of avoiding arrest or a criminal investigation.
“Those that are trying to help their grandson go hunting or something like that are not going to be wantonly charged with a crime,” said Republican St. Louis-area Rep. Dean Plocher.
A proposed amendment by Rep. Peter Merideth, a Democrat who also represents St. Louis, to keep the misdemeanor crime for recklessly giving guns without permission was shot down in a 94-41 vote.
“We’re making it easier for people to let kids play with guns without the consent of parents,” he said.
The bill needs another vote of approval before moving to the state Senate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.