A new version of a controversial gun bill that attempts to void certain federal gun laws in Missouri is expected to be debated in the upcoming legislative session.
Three local legislators said this week that they have not read revised language of the Second Amendment Preservation Act.
But State Reps. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, and Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, said they still support stopping federal intrusion into Missourians’ Second Amendment rights.
State Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, has also been a vocal supporter of the bill but could not be reached for comment.
The original bill sought to charge U.S. agents with misdemeanors if they enforced certain federal gun laws that were deemed unconstitutional. The new bill may remove that language and replace it with something more general.
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the original bill, citing doubts over its constitutionality. The Legislature fell just short of the votes needed to override that veto in September.
The next legislative session starts Jan. 8.
“It’s back to the drawing board,” Curtman said.
The new draft bill would also allow school districts to appoint teachers or administrators as school protection officers who could carry concealed guns in schools.
The new draft bill still states that federal gun laws that infringe on people’s right to bear arms are invalid. It also says that no public officer or state employee has the right to enforce such laws.
“Whenever the federal government assumes powers that the people did not grant it in the Constitution its acts are unauthoritative, void and of no force,” a draft version of the bill states.
Nixon said the original bill violated the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. That clause gives precedence to laws of a nation over individual states, Nixon said.
A summary of the new bill states that the supremacy clause does not apply to the manufacture, ownership and use of firearms because such laws “exceed the scope of the federal government’s authority.” However, there would be exceptions to this when it comes to the U.S. military.
Schatz said the bill sends a message to Washington, D.C. that the federal government should keep its hands off Missourians’ guns and ammunition.
Several legislators, including State Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, have been working on the new bill.
Dempsey and Richard broke from their Republican colleagues when they did not support overriding the governor’s veto of the first bill.
Hinson said he hopes a new bill could ease some concerns law enforcement had about the original measure.
He explained that law agencies were worried that the bill could handcuff agents’ abilities to bring forth charges if guns were found in drug raids.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was concerned about the impact that the bill could have had on deputies working with federal agents on investigations, Schatz said. The last thing he wants to do is hamper law enforcement’s ability to do its job, Schatz added.
Hinson said he just wishes the law enforcement groups would have come to the Legislature with their concerns earlier in the last session year so they could have been addressed.
Curtman said if the language about charging federal agents with misdemeanors is removed some other enforcement measures should be put in so the bill has “teeth.”
The new draft bill states that any state or federal officer who violates a person’s Second Amendment rights will be “liable to the injured party in an action at law, suit in equity or other proper proceeding for redress.” It also states that the defense may have to pay attorneys fees and would not be provided with official immunity.
The original bill stated that the agents would be charged with misdemeanors if they attempted to enforce laws that infringed on Missourians’ rights to bear arms.
Curtman said he would be reluctant to remove that language. In order for the bill to be enforced there has to be a set of checks and balances so people will think twice about violating the Second Amendment, he said.
In fact, he said the Second Amendment gives gun jurisdiction to the states, not the federal government.
Even if the original language about charging federal agents with misdemeanors were left in the bill, Curtman said he still thinks it would withstand a court challenge.