July 29, 2014

Senate leader releases draft of new gun legislation

The legislature failed to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a controversial gun bill. Now Senate Republican leaders who helped uphold that veto have made good on a promise to offer an alternative.

Senator Ron Richard

Senator Ron Richard

Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard (R-Joplin) has unveiled a draft of a bill that seeks to void in Missouri federal laws that “infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.” The primary differences between it and its predecessor, HB 436, are that it would not make it a crime to enforce certain federal gun laws in Missouri, or to publish the names of gun owners.

Richard says, “The intent of the bill is exactly the same. We’re just trying to make it constitutional so we can get past a court challenge.”

Richard wants the bill to be a bill to reaffirm the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in Missouri, and to give Missouri authority over the federal government when it comes to gun laws. He says he is making good on a promise to release draft language at least a month before pre-filing begins to allow people to provide feedback and suggest changes.

“We’ve tried to make it firmer on the Tenth Amendment, the overriding premise being that the federal government is usurping state’s rights.”

Richard says law enforcement expressed concerns to him that the draft’s predecessor interfered with their ability to perform their job.

“We felt, and public safety officials felt, that local authorities weren’t able (under that bill) to cooperate with federal authorities on the bad guys when it had to do with guns, and we got language (for this new draft) from the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association that helps that.”

The bill would require a local sheriff be notified before a federal warrant can be served in his jurisdiction. That requirement could be waived in cases of national security or when a sheriff is believed to have violated confidentiality in the issuance of warrants.

The bill does not specify what federal laws it would invalidate in Missouri. Rather, it says it would apply to certain taxes, registration and tracking requirements, prohibitions on the possession, ownership, use or transfer of a specific type of firearm and confiscation orders.

It would allow for the creation of school protection officers; teachers or administrators designated by a district that would be authorized to carry a concealed firearm. It lays out how such a designation can be made and how training for such officers should be developed.

The sponsor of HB 436, Representative Doug Funderburk (R-St. Peters) says the idea of barring the publishing of gun owners’ names has not been abandoned.

“The issue of publishing lists or publishing names is one we’re going to have to work on separately and try to figure out what is the right balance … the language that protects the publishing of overall lists but doesn’t limit anyone’s right, not just the media, but anyone’s right to the First Amendment. That’s still a work in progress.”

Funderburk says he thinks this bill keeps the most important provisions and underlying goals of his bill, and he wants to hear feedback.

He tells Missourinet, “I would like to hear back from the very same persons and people who were critical of the first bill.”

Richard says Senator Brian Nieves (R-Washington) will handle the bill and he has promised Nieves it will be the first one out of the gate.

“(Senate President Tom) Dempsey and I gave a commitment … it’ll be the first bill to committee and when I get the bill as Majority Leader it’ll be the first bill we handle in the Senate and we’ll spend time on it and get it to the House as quickly as we can, because if the Governor vetoes it again, we’ll be working toward overriding the veto during session.”

See the full language of the draft legislation here, and see a summary here.