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Missouri Senate endorses bill that would nullify federal gun laws

Updated: 2014-02-12T13:22:09Z

By ALEX STUCKEY

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

— The Missouri Senate tonight endorsed a bill that would nullify federal gun control laws and punish federal agents enforcing those laws with up to one year in jail.

The bill and several amendments to it were heard on the Senate floor this week.

The legislation is a second attempt for sponsor Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington. Last year, a similar bill was passed but Republicans didn’t get enough votes to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto. The veto came because Nixon said portions of the bill were unconstitutional.

Nieves says he’s addressed the major problems with the bill, including changing the amount of time a school protection officer can detain someone to one hour from four hours.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said Monday that Nieve’s bill is much different than the one vetoed last year.

“He’s cleaned it up,” Dempsey said. He said he appreciates that Nieves listened to the objections made about the first bill.

If the state passed this measure, it likely would be challenged in court. Courts have consistently ruled that federal laws can’t be nullified by states.

The legislation would allow certain school personnel to carry concealed weapons. However, wording was added Tuesday stating districts need to hold a public meeting before allowing those weapons in a building. Districts also could allow designated personnel to carry a non-lethal protection device, such as pepper spray.

On Monday, Nieves said he liked the idea of offering a non-lethal option, but wasn’t sure advertising “defenseless zones” through public hearings was positive.

The measure also would allow conceal carry permit holders to carry firearms opening, even in municipalities with ordinances banning this act. It also lowers the minimum age to obtain a concealed carry permit to 19 from 21.

Wording also was added Tuesday to allow an person 72 hours to report a firearm theft.

Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, attempted to provide state and local law enforcement protections when assisting federal officers with gun law enforcement, but his two very similar amendments failed to gain traction on the Senate floor.

Sifton’s amendments, in Nieves’ eyes, “nullifie(d) the nullification of the nullification bill.”

Nieves measure needs one more vote in the Senate before moving to the House.

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