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story.lead_photo.caption Scott Randolph, left, updates attendees at Sunday's monthly meeting of Jefferson City Area Indivisible about legislative work by Moms Demand Action. Photo by Gerry Tritz / News Tribune.

While Moms Demand Action "absolutely respects" the Second Amendment, it's pushing for what it says are common sense gun regulations, including what the organization said would fix a loophole that bypasses background checks.

Scott Randolph, the state legislative lead for the organization, spoke to Jefferson City Area Indivisible at its monthly meeting Sunday at the Missouri River Regional Library.

The progressive advocacy group also took on topics such as the coronavirus and an update from the area Sierra Club group. Thirteen people attended the meeting.

"Gun violence is the second leading cause of death among children, just behind auto accidents. So that tells you a lot," Randolph said.

Since 2008, gun deaths in Missouri have increased 55 percent, which corresponds with the Missouri Legislature making guns more accessible, he said. In 2007-08, he said, the requirement to register firearms was dropped, along with the requirement to have a background check for every gun.

As of 2018, Missouri has the third highest rate of gun deaths, he said.

The Legislature in 2016 dropped the requirement to obtain a license — which requires training — to conceal carry.

Also, if individuals buy guns from other people or at gun shows, rather than at stores, they no longer have to get background checks, he said.

Moms Demand Action wants to change that, he said. They're working to "close the deadly loopholes in our background check system that allow dangerous people — like felons and domestic abusers — easy access to guns."

Randolph also said the group is working to:

Support reasonable limits on where, when and how loaded guns are carried and used in public.

Keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and those posing a danger to themselves or others.

Promote gun safety so American children will no longer be exposed to unacceptable levels of risk.

Mobilize popular support for policies that respect Second Amendment rights and protect people.

On the federal level, the organization supports HB8, which expands background checks to all gun sales. The bill passed the House, but has stalled in the Senate.

Moms Demand Action was started by women and consists of about 80 percent women now, he said.

He said the effort is growing, and about 550 people attended its recent advocacy day at the Capitol.

Also at the meeting, local pharmacist Shirley Seabaugh said the coronavirus has killed close to two dozen people in the United States, and that's likely to become widespread.

Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. About 15 percent of the people who contract the disease get moderately sick, and about 5 percent are in critical condition.

The virus can live on the hands for 3-5 minutes and on surfaces for 48 hours, she said.

It attacks the lungs and is common in cats and other pets, she said.

Seabaugh said the virus could cause shortages of generic and antibiotic drugs, because they have raw materials imported from China.

Carolyn Amparan also updated the group on the Osage Group of the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The environmental group has had success in Columbia, she said, where it has worked to enact energy efficient building codes among other things.

It hopes to make similar progress in Jefferson City. On the state level, the group supports bills that would ban tax increment financing for building in floodplains and a "solar bill of rights' bill. It is opposing bills it says would weaken the voter-passed Clean Missouri measure and set a higher bar for getting initiative petitions on the ballot.

This page was edited at 8:15 a.m. March 10, 2020, to include the following clarification: Forms of coronavirus such as MERS and SARS have been found in pets, and a dog recently was found to have a low-level infection of COVID-19. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said no evidence exists that pets can spread COVID-19 to humans. "However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it's always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals," CDC said.

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