Stranger Than Fiction - The Missourian: Opinion

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Stranger Than Fiction

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:30 am

Want to know how surreal things have gotten in the Missouri Legislature? Try and unwind this one: 

State Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, was front and center in a bizarre hearing Monday night on the Senate floor where he spent a fair amount of time calling the National Rifle Association (NRA) “liars.” 

You heard it right, the politician who fancies himself the most “hard-core” Second Amendment Jedi in the Missouri Legislature and, indeed, the galaxy, was blasting away (pun intended) at the NRA, the country’s most powerful gun-rights organization. It gets stranger.

Nieves was trying to convince his colleagues not to remove an amendment to his prized legislation, The Second Amendment Preservation Act, which would nullify federal gun laws and which the Senate had preliminarily approved last week. 

Nieves is on a perpetual quest to pass the most powerful, strongest pro-Second Amendment bill in the country. Never mind our state already has some of the toughest pro-gun laws in the nation. 

Like the nullification bill Nieves’ sponsored last year, the watered-down version of this year’s bill is still unconstitutional. Of course, that pesky detail didn’t stop lawmakers from initially voting for it anyway last year and likely won’t hamper passage of this year’s bill. 

The meaningless amendment to this year’s bill, introduced by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a Democratic senator from St. Louis, would have required gun owners to report a stolen firearm to police within 72 hours after they discover the weapon missing. Unlike similar amendments in other states, Nasheed’s amendment didn’t contain any penalty or enforcement provisions. It was an amendment without any teeth. Many wondered why Nieves agreed to it in the first place. 

Despite that fact, the NRA still opposed the amendment because of its perceived potential to create some kind of gun registry and because it was unfair to punish victims of crime twice by asking them to report the theft to authorities. 

The NRA sounded the bell to kill the amendment and Senate Republicans fell in line much to Nieves’ chagrin.

The debate got testy. Nasheed said Nieves had allowed the NRA to “punk” him. Nieves ripped the NRA for lying about Nasheed’s amendment which he said he was eventually planning to remove anyway. 

Republicans privately said Nieves got “punked” by Nasheed for allowing the unnecessary amendment to his bill in the first place. 

So, to recap, Nieves calls the NRA liars over statements it made about a meaningless amendment which he was going to remove himself later anyway which his colleagues say should have never been allowed in the first place to an unconstitutional bill that really doesn’t preserve anything and which the taxpayers will pay to litigate later in court if it does become law which, by its own language, won’t happen before 2017 unless other states pass similar laws and which was really only introduced in the first place to enhance Nieves’ reputation as the most gun-loving politician ever and to help him raise campaign funds for his re-election bid.  

After you have taken a breath you can pause and consider whether the Senate has gone batty. 

Seriously, with all the critical issues facing our state, this is how our lawmakers spend their time? 

Is it any wonder why people have lost faith in government?

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