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Senate version of Missouri 2nd Amnd. Preservation Act amended into step backward

Kinda tough to take seriously the idea that a state that would require its citizens to report the theft of their guns would also protect those citizens from the federal government
Photo © Oleg Volk. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Missouri state senate voted Tuesday in favor of SB 613, the "Second Amendment Preservation Act." This is not the final vote before the bill is sent to the House--it must pass one more Senate vote first. SB 613 was at one time much like the House bill of the same name, HB 1439, which we discussed in mid-January. Thanks to some amendments agreed to on Tuesday, it is no longer, and could in fact be reasonably seen as a step back for gun rights.

In its most important provision--the prohibition on enforcement of unconstitutional federal gun laws (which is basically another way of saying all federal gun laws)--the bill does remain the same (although not for lack of effort on the part of at Sen. Scott Sifton, who as bill sponsor Sen. Nieves said, tried repeatedly to "nullif[y] the nullification of the nullification bill"). But SB 613, like HB 1439, was written to also protect schools from horrors like the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, by authorizing the districts to appoint "school protection officers" from among the teachers and staff, who would be permitted to carry firearms.

The bill would also lower the age of eligibility for a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19, preempt local restrictions on open carry of firearms, protect medical personnel from any requirement to ask patients about firearm ownership (and prevent them from documenting any such information if they do obtain it), and ban firearm possession by illegal aliens. All these provisions are also in HB 1439.

And now to the amendments. As reported by St. Louis Public Radio, the districts would now have the option of having the school protection officers not doing their protecting with firearms, but with . . . fiery spices:

But language providing for armed school personnel has been changed to allow school districts to choose pepper spray instead of guns. That provision was sponsored by state Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City.

That amendment is not so bad, in that school districts would still have the option of appointing armed (truly armed) protectors, and actually, one can easily imagine circumstances in which something between harsh language and a lethal weapon would be useful.

Another amendment, though, is another story. Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-5th District), who, remember, described legislation like the Second Amendment Preservation Act as "another right wing Republican attempt to go Second Amendment crazy," successfully amended SB 613 to penalize the victims of crime:

Another amendment, sponsored by state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, would require gun owners to police [sic] within 72 hours if someone steals their weapons. That addition was paired with another, stating that if the bill becomes law and is later ruled unconstitutional, the 72-hour period could be "severed" from the rest of the bill and remain on the books.

Think about that last sentence. The Department of Justice will inevitably claim that the nullification section of the law is unconstitutional, pushing the issue to the courts. Who can say what will happen there, but few would argue that it will be easy to get the courts to back the states in breaking the federal government's grip on the power it has usurped over a period of well over a century.

In other words, there is a very real possibility that in the end, the only part of the law left standing will be the part imposing the risk of criminal penalties on the victims of theft, and keep in mind that one segment of the population will be immune to this law, because in Haynes v. United States, the Supreme Court found that the Fifth Amendment's protection from any requirement to incriminate oneself means that a convicted felon, or anyone else prohibited by law from possessing firearms, cannot be punished for failing to tell the police about any guns he had possessed. The law, then, would not only target crime victims, it would exempt those crime victims who are felons.

Missourians must ask themselves, is this progress?

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