Parson’s refusals to help wrongly convicted and ban celebratory gunfire make no sense | Opinion

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It’s no surprise Gov. Mike Parson doesn’t want to compensate wrongfully convicted Missourians. How often has Parson advocated for the release of innocent people from our prisons? Almost never.

But Parson’s refusal to protect the innocent from indiscriminate gunfire is unfathomable.

On Thursday, Parson vetoed legislation that would have allowed anyone incarcerated for an erroneous conviction in Missouri to qualify for post-conviction financial relief. Currently, only those exonerated by DNA evidence are eligible for a payout from the state.

Senate Bill 189, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, of Parkville, also would have made celebratory gunfire a felony, instead of a slap on the wrist for a crime that local enforcement agencies can do little to curtail.

Why did Parson kill a fellow Republican’s bill? The state, he said, should not be financially responsible for erroneous convictions made at the local prosecutor’s office.

Parson is a former Polk County sheriff, and as such, worked with local prosecutors, who by the very nature of their taxpayer-funded jobs act as agents of the state.

We reached out to Luetkemeyer’s office for comment, but the Parkville lawmaker was unavailable.

In a veto message to the General Assembly, aides for Parson cited increased costs as the ridiculous reason for the state not atoning for wrongful incarcerations.

“Governor Parson does not believe every taxpayer across the State should be responsible for prosecutorial errors made at the local level,” they wrote.

Missouri’s Republican governor believes in law and order. Until he doesn’t. He is a staunch supporter of local control. Unless it involves undermining the effort to corral gun violence in Kansas City or St. Louis by preemptively restricting those cities from enacting tougher gun control laws.

Who could forget Parson’s expediency in signing into law a bill that upped the Kansas City Police Department’s annual budget by 5%, while city leaders wanted to assert some control on the purse strings? We remain cautious of any attempt by Parson to treat Kansas Citians fairly.

By rejecting S.B. 189, Parson also said no to a separate provision known as Blair’s Law.

We feel for the family of 11-year-old Blair Shanahan, who was killed by a stray bullet shot on July 4, 2011. After her death, Blair’s parents and a bipartisan group of lawmakers came together and fought for years to make the dangerous practice of celebratory gunfire a felony. Here, firing off rounds in the air is only a municipal violation.

Simple law of physics: What goes up must come down, Governor Parson. As a former lawman and supporter of the Second Amendment, Parson should know better than anyone the danger of indiscriminate gunfire.

Attempts to reach Blair’s mother, Michele Shanahan DeMoss, for comment were unsuccessful.

The bill made it to the governor’s desk as part of a crime bill package but was turned down because Missouri’s governor is too stubborn to pay restitution to the exonerated. How about not locking up innocent people to begin with?

In Kansas City, six gunfire injuries were reported this Fourth of July, police officials said. Luckily, no one died.

We invite the governor to come spend a New Year’s Eve or Independence Day with us. Take in the sights and sounds round after round. And we’re not talking about fireworks.

The next time someone in this state dies from celebratory gunfire, we challenge the governor to sit with the bereaved family. He should arrangements to attend the funeral of any person who dies as a result of his inaction.

Previously, Parson said he supported Blair’s Law. This week, in a statement, he tried his best to make sense out of his nonsensical veto of the legislation:

“Missourians know I am a law and order governor and that improving public safety is a cornerstone of our administration, but I cannot sign this bill with these provisions as they are currently written,” he wrote.

Banning celebratory gunfire in Missouri was the right thing to do. Blair’s parents and lawmakers should be proud of their efforts over the years to pass this legislation out of the General Assembly. Despite the last-hour veto from the governor’s desk, we’re hopeful that work will continue.

And for innocent people finally freed from prison, offering them compensation, schooling, help with health care and other benefits is how the state should make amends for their wrongful convictions.

Too bad Missouri’s governor refuses to see the humanity in that.