April 24, 2014

House gives initial approval to two gun bills (AUDIO)

On the same day the U.S. Senate rejected an expansion of background checks for gun purchases, the Missouri House of Representatives has advanced two gun rights bills.

A bill (HB 170) sponsored by Rep. Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany) would make laws passed after Jan. 1, 2013 that ban, restrict ownership or require registration of a gun or magazine unenforceable in Missouri and would make it a Class D felony to attempt to enforce them.

A separate measure (HB 436) sponsored by Rep. Doug Funderburk (R-St. Peters) would make any law that infringes on the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution invalid according to state law.

Guernsey says of his bill it is one he never thought he’d have to sponsor.

“We as a legislative body in Missouri are going to have to put ourselves between the citizens of Missouri and the federal government when it comes to one of our most basic, fundamental, constitutional rights, that of our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Guernsey said.

Rep. Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) said Guernsey’s bill is unconstitutional.

“You talk to any lawyer that’s standing here … they’ll tell you that this bill basically benefits the trial lawyers,” Newman said. “It just gives them something else to contest in court because we all know that this bill is not going to hold any muster.”

Supporters and opponents of the bills expressed outrage at various parts of one another’s arguments. Rep. Margo McNeil (D-Florissant) cited incidents of gun violence.

“I feel that what is really outrageous is 20 children killed in Sandy Hook [Conn.] not too long ago, and six adults,” she said. “What is outrageous is 61 mass shootings since Columbine [Colo.] in 1999. What is outrageous is 17 bullets in one six-year-old’s body. That’s what’s outrageous.”

AUDIO:  McNeil’s floor remarks (1:42)

Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Pacific) countered by saying it is outrageous that state or federal lawmakers would try to infringe on Missourians’ Second Amendment rights.

“If you were to go back in time 230-some years and look at a dictionary, the word ‘infringe’ would say something along the lines of ‘to corrupt’ or ‘to corrode,’ so anything that the federal government does to restrict the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, in fact, an infringement, and therefore unconstitutional,” he said.

AUDIO:  Curtman’s floor remarks (3:27)

An amendment was adopted on Funderburk’s bill that would allow school districts to designate school protection officers. These would be teachers or administrators that would be allowed to carry concealed guns on school grounds. It was sponsored by Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville).

“They would have to have a valid concealed carry weapons permit and also go through post-commission training … basically police officer training … this is a way of protecting our schools and our children where it matters most, at our most vulnerable areas of our society,” Brattin said.

Brattin’s proposal drew more response from Newman, who tweeted, “It’s NRA night in MO House. What’s next? Arming kids?”

Other provisions between the two bills would lower the age to be eligible to apply for a concealed carry weapons permit from 21 to 19 and allow permit holders to open carry, bar the publishing of gun owner lists, prevent medical practitioners from asking gun ownership status of patients and exempt individuals from federal background checks in private gun transactions.

Both packages would advance to the Senate with another favorable vote.