CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - More people in the Heartland are joining efforts to reduce gun violence, but since it’s a polarizing issue many have different approaches to getting it done.
According to fatal injury data from the Centers For Disease Control, nearly 40,000 people were shot and killed in 2017. That averages out to 109 Americans being fatally shot every day.
The striking statistics are motivating people to join a grass roots movement.
One of them is Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which has tripled its number of local groups in Missouri over the past year and a half.
The 18th group will be based out of Poplar Bluff.
Organizer Lynda Stewart said the group now has more than 300 supporters throughout Southeast Missouri.
Stewart said the shooting in El Paso, Texas in August is driving a lot of interest because rural families shop at Walmart and could see themselves as victims.
Stewart and other mothers are demanding action policy changes when it comes to gun sales. They are urging for background checks for all guns sales. According to a Pew Research poll, 85 percent of Americans support this proposal.
“You have to remember when our background check law was written all of these years ago, the internet was just in its infancy," Stewart said. “Just like so many of our laws they need to be updated to reflect the times because back when it was written there we only brick and mortar stores and now we’ve got online, if you’re answering an ad in your local newspaper. If you’re at a garage sale.”
Not everyone agrees with this approach.
Shooters Gun Shop owner, Lanell Lang, said their business uses the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on every firearm sale.
Lang states the current law works. According to U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, NICS has blocked more than 3.5 million sales to prohibited purchasers since 1994.
Instead, Lang supports reducing gun violence through more firearm education.
“I’m all for gun safety. You need to teach your kids or whomever, even if it’s not your child to respect the firearm. To show them what can happen with a firearm," Lang said. "They have to go through a hunter safety course, and it’s not the guns that kill people. It’s the people.”
In February 2019 the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 8 known as the Bipartisian Background Checks Act of 2019, but the U.S. Senate has not taken up the proposed bill.