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Missouri's '2nd Amendment Preservation Act' should have better chance this year

Well, feds, what do you do when the states just say 'No'?
Photo © Oleg Volk. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Last year, Missouri HB 436. the "Second Amendment Preservation Act," was passed by large, bipartisan majorities, in both chambers of the Missouri legislature, and then vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon (D). The House overrode Nixon's veto, but the Senate fell one vote short--that failure aided and abetted by a stab in the back from Republican senate "leadership." This year, Representative Doug Funderburk (R-103rd District) is trying again, and appears to be putting last year's lessons to good use.

The bill is HB 1439, and its most important component is the language declaring that federal laws that infringe on the Second Amendment rights of Missourians are null and void, and that furthermore, attempts to enforce them are themselves a crime (but only a misdemeanor). HB 1439 would also preempt local laws regulating open carry, and lower the age of eligibility for concealed carry permits from 21 to 19. Finally, the bill would authorize school districts to appoint teachers and/or administrators as "school protection officers," authorized to carry a concealed firearm.

One thing that HB 1439 will not do, that HB 436 would have, is one of the reasons this year's bill has a better chance of becoming law. HB 436, in attempting to protect the confidentiality of gun owners, included language that could be construed as a serious infringement on First Amendment rights:

571.011. 1. No person or entity shall publish the name, address, or other identifying information of any individual who owns a firearm or who is an applicant for or holder of any license, certificate, permit, or endorsement which allows such individual to own, acquire, possess, or carry a firearm.

2. For purposes of this section, "publish" means to issue information or material in printed or electronic form for distribution or sale to the public.

3. Any person or entity who violates the provisions of this section by publishing identifying information protected under this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

As critics of HB 436 complained last year, that could at least conceivably make it a crime for a newspaper to publish a hunting season photograph of a hunter with his or her game and gun, or the winner of a school sponsored trapshooting event.

HB 1439 wisely avoids that issue entirely, thus creating fewer enemies.

An innovative feature of HB 1439, absent in the older HB 436, is the stipulation that it will not go into effect until 2017--unless four or more other states pass similar laws. AP News explains the reasoning:

Republican leaders in Missouri and elsewhere say bringing other states along in the effort might lead to a different outcome.

"This can't be just a Missouri effort. There has to be a groundswell of support by the people — by other states as well — in order for us ultimately to be successful," said Republican Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey.

Sen. Dempsey, remember, was one of the two Republican senators to vote against the veto override (after having voted for the bill itself), and cited the restrictions on publication of gun owners' identities as the reason for his flip-flop last year--perhaps with that language removed, he can muster the courage to stick to a position.

The new version is not, of course, without it's shrilly indignant critics. Here's one of them, from the AP News article:

"The state will never trump federal laws," said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat. "It is again another right wing Republican attempt to go Second Amendment crazy."

The states, of course, must trump unconstitutional federal laws, and those federal laws that violate both the Second and Tenth Amendments are certainly that--but acknowledging that would be impossible for someone whose entire career is a left wing Democrat attempt to go federal leviathan crazy.

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