Update below: Republican State Senator Kurt Schaefer is a big believer in the Second Amendment and has even proposed a constitutional amendment in Missouri that would make the right to bear arms even stronger. But that doesn't mean he's a huge fan of a pro-gun bill that has earned Missouri national attention: a proposal to block the enforcement of federal gun control in the state.
"You can't make a blanket statement that you are going to disregard all federal [gun-control] laws," Schaefer, a GOP senator from Columbia, tells Daily RFT. "Just because you have the right to bear arms...doesn't mean the government can't do anything."
Last week, the Missouri legislature sent the bill to block federal gun policies in the state to the governor's desk, and Schaefer -- like vocal Democrats in the state and across the country -- seems to think it's not the most logical idea at the capitol this session.
See also: - Did Tribune Print Threat to Kurt Schaefer? "I Will Duel Him Until His or My Death" - Kurt Schaefer Wants Constitutional Change to Make Right to Bear Arms Stronger - Gun Control Dems Slam GOP Rep's Joke About Armed Sheriffs Watching (AUDIO)
The argument from supporters of this bill is that if Barack Obama puts forward executive orders on gun control that violate the Second Amendment, a state like Missouri should be able to make it a crime to enforce these policies here -- because they are unconstitutional.
Critics of that policy, however, say that this is an attempt at nullification and that states can't just reject federal laws. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow even devoted a portion of her show last week to this proposal, saying, "They passed a bill that would ban all federal gun laws in Missouri. No, you can't really do that, but they passed a law that would do it."
And Schaefer, despite his strong gun-rights advocacy, says he recognizes that some of these criticisms are legitimate.
"You can't in advance make a blanket statement that we won't follow some class of regulation," he says, noting that the right to bear arms does not mean there can be no regulatory laws whatsoever.
He says that he strongly supports efforts to protect the Second Amendment, but adds that challenges to unconstitutional policies must be specific.
"Sometimes people want to send a message to the federal government," he says. "The legal reality is you have to take every situation as it comes.... Is this legal or not?"
"People are passionate about this on both sides," he says.
Schaefer argues that he thinks his pro-Second Amendment bill -- Senate Joint Resolution 14 -- is a more logical approach.
If passed, his bill would then require direct support from voters through a measure on the ballot in an upcoming election because it would be a revision to the state constitution.
The change in language in his bill would establish that the right to bear arms is "unalienable," and that the state of Missouri "shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement."
Schaefer says it would give voters the opportunity to "tell elected officials that it is their obligation to uphold this right."
His proposal -- which he hopes will get final approval this last week of the session -- is not a nullification effort, he says. Instead, if approved by voters, it would establish that when there are disputes regarding gun policies, it is "incumbent upon elected officials to do that analysis and find in favor of individual rights," he explains.Update, 10:12 a.m.: A reader points out that Schaefer did in fact vote in favor of this bill, which we should've noted in our original report:
Here's the bill that passed last week, followed by Schaefer's constitutional amendment proposal.
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