Missouri governor vetoes school surveillance tech bill

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson vetoed a bill that he said seemed to violate state procurement laws because it described "a specific vendor’s platform.”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks during a press conference at Woodland High School on April 5, 2023 in Marble Hill, Missouri. (Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images)

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday vetoed funding for an initiative that would have used video surveillance software to detect guns on school campuses, citing a desire to cut spending and a potential conflict with the state’s purchasing rules.

The rejected $2.5 million program was one of 173 line-item vetoes the governor announced while signing Missouri’s $50 billion state budget, the Associated Press reported. The bill was supported by a public-safety technology firm called ZeroEyes, which has been lobbying around the United States for similar legislation in other states.

Parson, a Republican, wrote in a letter explaining the veto that “this appropriation appears to describe a specific vendor’s platform” and cited laws requiring the state to lead a fair, competitive bidding process. Parson also wrote that he wished to cut spending.

ZeroEyes, bolstered by its lobbying efforts and the country’s many high-profile mass shootings, has won contracts for its gun surveillance alert system in other states, including Florida, Michigan, Texas and Utah. A ZeroEyes executive told the Kansas Reflector in May the company hopes also to expand to a handful of additional states before the year ends.


ZeroEyes uses video cameras and software powered by artificial intelligence to quickly identify firearms and notify authorities. Its website boasts that the software “analyzes over three billion images each day.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a similar bill last spring after competing vendors noted that the legislation’s wording made ZeroEyes the only company that would have qualified for the contract.

Beyond school campuses, ZeroEyes’ technology is also used by cities, like Hobbs, New Mexico, which uses the technology to monitor its K-12 schools, municipal buildings and public parks. When Hobbs officials spoke with StateScoop last year, they said ZeroEyes had only sent the city’s crime center “three or four” gun notifications after the cameras had spotted children playing with water guns or airsoft pistols, but that they were happy to have received the notices nonetheless.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority tested the technology on its trains last year but canned the project last March. Officials said the program was canceled because the authority’s old analog cameras didn’t provide clear enough imagery for ZeroEyes’ software.

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