Editorial Roundup: Missouri

Kansas City Star. August 3, 2022.

Editorial: Missouri Republicans to Eric Greitens: Go away. Again. And stay away forever

Eric Greitens thought Missouri GOP voters had short memories.

He imagined they would welcome him when he came roaring back with guns blazing — literally — in a bid for U.S. Senate just four years after he left the governor’s mansion in disgrace.

Tuesday night, his Republican challenger Eric Schmitt bested him easily. So did U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler. Greitens came in third — abject humiliation for a candidate with such huge name recognition.

Of course, he never should have wasted primary voters’ time, or his donors’ money, in the first place. He abruptly exited Jefferson City in 2018 under multiple clouds. He was accused of campaign finance violations (and paid a fine and signed a consent decree with the Missouri Ethics Commission to settle — an admission he’d misreported contributions). His former hairdresser credibly alleged he tied her up in his basement and forced himself on her sexually. And since his resignation, his ex-wife has testified under oath that he physically assaulted her and their children.

He enjoyed no last-minute boost from Donald Trump’s clownish non-endorsement of “ERIC” Monday evening, transparently designed for Trump to claim kingmaker status whether Schmitt or Greitens prevailed.

Perhaps if Greitens’ approach in this race had begun with a modicum of contrition — a humanizing apology for embarrassing his state on a national stage — he could have made a plea for redemption.

Nope. Instead, voters got the same arrogant, violently threatening persona they’d come to know before, amped up even further. A commercial where he and a squadron of shock troops brandished rifles to go “RINO hunting” drew scorn and horror far outside Missouri’s borders.

Eric Greitens has shown his state no traces of modesty or repentance. There’s little reason to think he won’t be back, reaching for yet another office in the future. Here’s to hoping nobody ever throws dollars away filling his campaign coffers again.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch. August 8, 2022.

Editorial: Republicans brave the risks to support same-sex marital rights

It took guts, perhaps along with a careful look at polling results, for 47 House Republicans to join their Democratic colleagues in approving a bill late last month to codify interstate recognition of same-sex marriages. Rep. Ann Wagner was the sole Missouri Republican to support it. In these hyper-partisan times, any such vote risks putting Republicans on a target list for removal for veering even slightly from strict conservative orthodoxy.

The Respect for Marriage Act, which faces a difficult but not insurmountable climb in the Senate, was necessary only because of the Supreme Court’s reversal of abortion rights and a hint by conservative justices that same-sex marital rights could be next. The only way to stave off such a reversal is for Congress to codify it in law — as Democrats should have done long ago for abortion rights when they controlled both houses.

For Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voting for same-sex marital rights probably wasn’t a heavy lift, given projections of her reelection defeat. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, already has publicly supported same-sex marital rights, and Liz Cheney’s sister is a married lesbian.

For other Republicans, the risks were more substantial. The woman who ousted Cheney from the No. 3 GOP leadership post, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, also supported the bill, as did the National Republican Campaign Committee chairman, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, and House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

The rest of the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus had urged members to vote against the bill, denouncing it as part of “an all-out campaign” by the “radical Left” to attack “America’s traditional values and sacred institutions. …This bill is both unnecessary and undermines the recognition of ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman.”

Perry countered that “my vote affirmed my long-held belief that Americans who enter into legal agreements deserve to live their lives without the threat that our federal government will dissolve what they’ve built,” he told the York, Pennsylvania, Daily Record.

This marks one of those rare moments when some brave Republicans are choosing to stand on principle instead of blindly following the GOP pack. A Gallup poll in June found that a record 70% of respondents support same-sex marriage, including 55% of Republicans.

In the Senate so far, only a few Republicans have signaled a willingness to support the bill, and skeptics are lashing out. Despite the enormous weight the gay community carries in urban parts of Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio denounced it as “a stupid waste of time.”

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley plans to vote no. But outgoing Sen. Roy Blunt remains undecided, telling CNN: “I don’t have any problem with same-sex marriage, but I’m not sure. I want to look at the legislation.” He’s had more than enough time. And given that he’s leaving after this term, what does Blunt have to lose?

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St. Joseph News Press. August 8, 2022.

Editorial: A bridge too far for legal gun owners

The whole gun debate can be annoyingly shrill, absolutist and self-righteous. Both sides are known to generate some eye rolls from the general public, many of whom just want the violence to stop but would rather not trample on the rights of legal, law-abiding gun owners.

Maybe a way forward would be to put county sheriffs in charge of all firearms laws. Sheriffs are elected, so they’re accountable to the people. They understand guns, both their potential to protect and their capability to generate great harm. They know that training and responsibility are essential.

Across the state, sheriff’s offices effectively handle the application and permitting of conceal carry permits for eligible Missourians.

Local law enforcement seems to have a certain practicality with guns that the chattering class sometimes lacks. They know that training is good and the filing of paperwork is necessary, but they also seem to know when enough is enough.

Recently, FBI Director Christopher Wray has expressed a desire to conduct audits of concealed weapons records in Missouri. Nothing major, just a little looksie to make sure there is no “misuse of the system.”

Yeah, right. Why don’t you take a look in people’s houses and medicine cabinets while you’re at it? It doesn’t sound like an abuse of the Fourth Amendment.

Actually, the sharing of conceal carry records is a violation of Missouri law, which specifies that conceal carry endorsements or permits are considered personal protected information. It’s probably also a violation of Missouri’s Second Amendment Protection Act, a law that puts limits on sharing firearms information with federal authorities or databases.

SAPA, as its known, contains some overreach that hinders the ability of law enforcement at the local level, but bear in mind it’s requests like this from the FBI or Justice Department that sparks overreach as a response to the overreach.

Local sheriffs, including Buchanan County’s Bill Puett, are right to balk at this unreasonable and unnecessary request. It’s absurd to think that violent felons, traffickers and drug kingpins, the kinds of people the FBI ought to worry about, will mosey over to your local sheriff’s office to fill out a CCW application.

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