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Friday, October 24, 2014

Proposed Missouri gun laws could fight federal regulation

Another law would allow teachers conceal and carry rights in schools.

Senior Meagan Wolters shoots Monday night during Ladies Night at Target Masters in Columbia, Mo.

Mark Kern/Staff Photographer
Cait Campbell/Graphic Designer

Two bills working through the Missouri Legislature could cause a showdown with the push for tighter gun control coming from President Barack Obama's administration. 

Senate Bill 150, introduced earlier this month by state Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, would make it a class D felony for any federal official to enforce stricter gun laws than had been in place since last year.

"(The executive orders) are taking away some of our Constitutional rights that our forefathers granted us in the Constitution and in the amendments to the Constitution," Munzlinger said. "They're trying to put this as a gun issue, but in my mind and in a lot of other people's minds it's not just guns. It's the taking of freedoms that we have in the United States."

A similar bill, House Bill 162, states, "a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Missouri and that remains within the borders of Missouri is not subject to federal law or federal regulation," establishing the Missouri Firearms Freedoms Act.

These two bills would make any new federal gun regulation unenforceable in the state of Missouri.

Obama's plan, which was formulated in part with proposals made by Vice President Joe Biden, came in the aftermath of last month's Newtown, Conn. school shooting. It advocates closing existing loopholes in the background check procedure, banning military-style assault weapons and increasing access to mental health services.

If SB150 and HB162 pass, Obama's proposal and executive actions would be nullified, at least according to the Missouri statues. Currently both bills are awaiting a scheduled hearing date.

A third bill, House Bill 70, would allow teachers in the state with conceal and carry privileges the right to carry concealed firearms into schools without school board approval.

HB70, sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Carthage, has been read twice before the House and is also awaiting a scheduled hearing date.

The bills put Missouri firmly in the camp of states in the process of enacting nullification-type bills. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, these types of measures have been introduced in 24 states in recent years, fighting everything from gun regulation to health care.

In his State of the State address Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon made references to upholding federal law, in particular the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but many viewed the statement as a reference to the firearms bills as well.

"But Congress passed (the ACA), the President signed it, and the Supreme Court upheld it," Nixon said. "It's the law of the land. And it's not within our power to rewrite federal laws, even if we wanted to."

Munzlinger said he was not worried about the constitutionality of SB150.

"I've got some examples where the Supreme Court did not rule that way," he said. "That was because we have the Tenth Amendment. Any law that we pass can be taken to court. I hope that judges have the good sense to see that most of ours are upheld. I hope this one is. And like I said it's way beyond the gun issue - in my mind it's a constitutional rights issue." 

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