In a surprising and unusual parliamentary move Monday, the Missouri Senate voted to strip the "poison pill" amendment to SB 613, the "Second Amendment Preservation Act," discussed in this column last week. The amendment, introduced by anti-gun St. Louis area Democrat Senator Jamilah Nasheed, would have imposed a legal obligation upon victims of gun theft, requiring them to report to the police the loss or theft of any of their firearms. What this would accomplish is generally left oddly unexplored.
In a smugly sarcastic editorial, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described the motivation behind Nasheed's amendment this way:
Such reporting, which is intended to crack down on both the theft of firearms and their re-use in crime — a major issue in Ms. Nasheed’s district — is seen by the deeply paranoid gun lobby as a precursor to a secret database that President Barack Obama will use to take your guns.
But how would that work, exactly? How does the report of a stolen firearm help the police "crack down" on the theft, or the gun's "re-use in crime"? When the theft is reported, will the police put out on all points bulletin to find it right away? Even if so, does that appreciably increase the likelihood of it being found, and the crook brought to justice? It's certainly difficult to imagine how.
So now, Missouri once again is on track to pass a clean bill to protect citizens from unconstitutional federal gun laws (another way of saying all federal gun laws, it would seem), along with authorizing armed "school protection officers" among school staffs, lowering the age of eligibility for concealed carry permits from 21 to 19, protecting patients' confidentiality regarding gun possession, and preempting local regulation of open carry.
The Senate's action Monday was unexpected because by Senate rules, the bill had been "perfected" last week, and could no longer be changed, meaning Nasheed's amendment was invulnerable. To get around that, they had to, as USA Today describes it, "turn back the clock":
To remove Nasheed's amendment from the bill, Republicans had to "reconsider" the previous votes on the bill, a way of essentially turning back the clock on what the state Senate already had done. Republicans successfully stripped out Nasheed's amendment after she stopped speaking.
The other story here is that the NRA has managed to make enemies on both sides of the debate, by issuing an alert last week urging Missouri residents to contact their state senators asking them to oppose the bill. In that alert, the group made some assertions about the theft reporting requirement that appear to have been made up from whole cloth.
This understandably upset Senator Brian Nieves (R-Washington), the sponsor of the bill, and Sen. Nasheed. Nasheed, in fact, makes an interesting charge, as quoted in another St. Louis Post-Dispatch article:
Nasheed believes the NRA’s opposition to her amendment is “bigger” than her amendment.
“(The NRA) didn’t come out in support of the bill when the bill was heard in committee,” she said. “I don’t think they like the bill — I don’t like the bill.”
While it's tempting to dismiss Nasheed's complaints as an anti-gunner's sour grapes over an anti-gun amendment going down in flames when it had appeared to be in the home stretch, one cannot help but note that the NRA seems never to have used its power to support any of the "Firearms Freedom Act"/"Second Amendment Preservation Act" laws in the five or so years of the state-by-state movement to pass them.
There also seems to be no evidence of the group actively opposing them, either, but until Missouri SB 613 came along, with Nasheed's amendment, there was probably never such a bill that also contained an anti-gun element, thus giving them some plausible cover under which to oppose the very pro-gun measure of protecting the people of a state from unconstitutional federal gun laws.
As for why the NRA might oppose such legislation, perhaps it's simple tactical concerns--perhaps they don't see such laws ever surviving the inevitable federal court fight, and thus don't want the gun rights movement burning political capital for nothing--the "Vulcan chess masters" explanation. Somewhat similar thinking was apparently at the heart of their original obstruction of what eventually became the District of Columbia v. Heller case. On the other hand, perhaps they see more moneymaking potential in fighting the gun rights war, than in winning it.
For now, though, if the NRA was hoping to kill SB 613, they are just as disappointed as the anti-gun, federal government über alles nanny-statists.
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