Is Missouri ready for a new "hardcore" gun bill?
The state legislature now has two proposed bills that would criminalize federal gun laws, setting up a potential sequel to last year's legislative blockbuster, House Bill 436, which fell just a handful of votes short of beating the governor's veto and becoming law.
Yesterday, the same lawmaker who proposed HB 436 last year, Republican Representative Doug Funderburk, submitted a new Second Amendment Preservation Act. If passed, the bill would empower the state to arrest and charge federal agents trying to enforce gun regulations.
Republican Senator Brian Nieves proposed a similar gun bill a week ago. Though some controversial provisions from last year's bill -- like the one that broadly prohibited journalists from writing about gun owners -- have been removed, the meat of these bills remains essentially the same.
Like the defeated HB 436, Nieves' bill includes language that would nullify federal law.
"[A]ll federal acts... whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people's right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment...shall be considered null and void."
A third bill is likely headed to the floor as well; in September, Republican Senator Ron Richard posted a draft of his own Second Amendment Protection Act, vowing to correct the "flawed language" of HB 426 that led to its defeat.
Our attempts to reach Funderburk, Nieves and Richard have so far been unsuccessful.
In the same Wednesday session, Democratic Senator Stacey Newman, a vocal proponent of gun regulation, proposed a bill that would extend background checks in the state.
"The notion that there's one amendment that can't be regulated is just completely false," Newman says. "The Second Amendment has been consistently regulated, and laws that allow more weapons on the street do nothing to protect our citizens or protect our kids."
Like last year, the passing of one of these bills could lead to an extended battle with Attorney General Eric Holder. But Newman says she's worried about the items within these bills that have a chance of surviving the eventual scrutiny of a judge.
She points to provisions in both Richard's draft and Nieves' bill that would supersede local ordinances prohibiting the open carry of firearms. Provided you have a concealed-carry permit, the bill would allow you to walk through St. Louis freely and visibly strapped -- despite the city's ban on open carry.
Other states have already passed their own Second Amendment Protection Acts: In Kansas, the presence of enthusiastically gun-friendly governor resulted in a nullification law that makes it a felony for federal officers to enforce federal gun laws.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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