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Will Missouri lawmakers soon take the lead on legislation that actually addresses a main cause of violence involving guns, rather than blaming the guns themselves?

One marriage and family activist thinks so, and says, “It’s about time.”

David Usher, president of Center for Marriage Policy, tells WND that proposed legislation in the “Show Me” state may soon show the rest of the country the way to address the real culprit in armed violence, “a loaded individual rather than a loaded gun.”

“Missouri House bill 402 is a major step forward in reducing gun violence,” says Usher.

“Substance abuse in the family is the leading factor and primary driver of many kinds of gun-related crimes, domestic violence, and other offenses,” Usher told WND.

He points to documentation of his claims found in the Bureau of Justice statistics, saying, “Nearly half of gun-related violence is associated with substance abuse at the time of the offense.”

Guns aren’t always the weapon of choice for substance abusers, as Usher points out, “Nearly two-thirds of other violent crimes involve substance abuse at the time of the offense.”

The proposed legislation aims to force substance abusers into treatment, “or lose it all.”

The law would give power to the victim of domestic violence involving substance abuse in order to see their loved one get practical treatment, while giving complete control of the family and finances to the non-substance abusing spouse.

“Missouri House Bill 402 takes the bull by the horns,” Usher tells WND. “Substance abuse in the family has never been addressed with a policy that empowers the non-substance-abusing spouses with the ability to leverage the troubled spouse into recovery.”

He says that until now most spouses either have to live with the abuse or get a divorce.

“Most individuals don’t like those options. They simply want to see their partner get into recovery,” Usher says.

While the effect of drugs and alcohol have been addressed for decades when it comes to motor vehicle laws, those laws may not address those same substance abuse issues when it comes to domestic violence.

Supporters of the Missouri legislation like that the law will give spouses a tool to deal with serious substance abuse within the family.

They say that the legislation will also reduce many other problems such as:

  • Gun violence
  • Domestic violence, including costs for legal services, incarceration, and counseling
  • Workplace violence
  • Motor vehicle accidents and fatalities
  • Violence against women and children
  • Poverty for women and children
  • Divorce and associated problems and costs to the state and insurance companies for psychological services, remedial education, suicide prevention, and other services to troubled children and adults
  • Divorce and associated collection costs or losses imposed on banks, mortgage companies, credit card companies, and creditors such as retailers and attorneys
  • Child abuse and neglect, including costs to the state
  • Higher employee productivity for all businesses
  • Married veterans who are unable to return to active civil life after tour of duty due to chronic substance abuse problems
  • Improved marriage rates and reduced divorce rates, resulting in more taxpayers and fewer welfare recipients

Usher says that detractors of this legislation needn’t worry about state intervention in the family either.

“The state won’t have power to intervene on its own. Individuals are free to use alcohol as they see fit so long as both spouses agree to it.”

Usher also points at the United States Congress unwillingness to re-fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and hopes they take notice of Missouri’s lead.

“VAWA has not been effective because it fails to address the No. 1 cause of serious domestic violence and marital conflict: substance abuse in the family,” Usher says.

Usher tells WND that this proposed legislation will provide much needed help to spouses in need.

“Instead of ending up unmarried and in trouble, HB402 will provide positive outcomes for thousands of Missourians.”

He estimates that Missouri alone will save over $180 million in the first year if the marriage rate improves by a mere 10 percent.

“With improving marriage rates we will see corresponding decreases in family violence, violence against women, crime in general, child abuse, and child neglect,” says Usher.

He tells WND that the bill is expected to pass without problem and will hopefully refocus the national tone regarding the headline grabbing gun debates.

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