Missouri Governor Vetoes Gun Safety Bill, Calls It ‘Pet Project’

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) vetoed a bill aimed at funding a school safety initiative for gun-detection equipment, describing it as a “pet project.” The bill, which proposed a $2.5 million grant, was one of several line-item vetoes Parson announced while signing a roughly $50 billion state budget bill, as reported by the Associated Press.

The bill intended to finance a gun surveillance system from ZeroEyes, a company established by military veterans after the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. That shooting resulted in 17 deaths and 17 injuries, prompting increased efforts for school safety.

Parson’s decision mirrors a similar veto by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly in May, who rejected a $5 million grant proposal involving ZeroEyes. Both governors cited concerns over the bills appearing to favor a specific vendor. Kelly stated that the legislation would have given ZeroEyes an exclusive opportunity, while Parson noted that the Missouri bill seemed to describe a particular vendor’s platform.

In his veto explanation, Parson emphasized the need for the state to adhere to established purchasing laws rather than directly contracting with a specific vendor. He conveyed this rationale in a letter to legislators, reinforcing the importance of fair and competitive procurement processes.

The proposed grant aimed to implement advanced gun-detection technology in schools, a measure advocates argue could enhance safety and prevent future tragedies. However, the exclusive nature of the contracts with ZeroEyes raised concerns about transparency and fairness in the allocation of state funds.

Parson’s veto has sparked a debate about the best approach to enhancing school safety and the role of private companies in providing these solutions. Critics of the veto argue that immediate action is necessary to protect students, while supporters agree with the governor’s call for a more open and competitive bidding process.

The rejection of this bill underscores the ongoing challenges and complexities in balancing swift implementation of safety measures with ensuring proper governance and accountability in public spending.